You can’t see it from the road, but just behind OSU Institute of Technology’s newest building, the Chesapeake Energy Natural Gas Compression Training Center, is the university’s newest teaching space.
From a layman’s perspective, the Phillips 66 Pipeline Integrity Outdoor Lab doesn’t look like much but a few large pipes on the ground and then an open space with tall thin yellow rods coming out of the ground and what looks like a switch box on one end of space.
What most people don’t see is the 350 feet of pipe buried just beneath the surface. The space also has an active rectifier— that switchbox— that provides cathodic protection, a technique used to control corrosion, to the pipes that simulates real-life pipeline activities, said Joe Bartlett, Pipeline Integrity Technology instructor.
“The fact that you cannot see this training tool doesn’t diminish the importance of the facility. This is just as important as a gas compressor in the Natural Gas Compression program, electric line poles in the High Voltage program, or a generator in the Aggreko program,” Bartlett said.
The Pipeline Integrity students also appreciate what the new outdoor lab means to their education and the program.
“It’s way better than sitting in a classroom and watching screens or reading books on how to do things. This lab is the closest thing to a real-world experience you’re going to get,” said Pipeline student Travis Fielding, from McCurtain.
Fellow Pipeline student Dylan Morgan, from Fort Gibson, said the new outdoor lab allows students to take surveys and readings just like they would in the field and then better interpret those findings.
“It will help us put two and two together and know how to use the equipment,” Morgan said.
Lily Henderson, a Pipeline student from Burke, Vermont, said the outdoor lab will help students understand some of the more difficult concepts the program covers.
“The program has come a long way and now having a space to go out and actually do some of these tests first-hand will fill in some of the gaps. You can actually troubleshoot like we would in the field,” Henderson said. “It will definitely give first-year students an advantage when they go on internship.”
Bartlett said the new outdoor lab allows students to understand and perform more than 30 tasks that will be day-to-day job expectations when they enter the workforce.
“This facility allows a student to leave OSUIT with more confidence that they are ready for their internships and ultimately ready for the future as a pipeline integrity professional,” he said.
Pipeline student Caleb Osborne from Rosedale agrees.
“It will definitely give you a better idea of what you’re walking into,” said Rosedale. “I’ve been on my internship and I still learned stuff the first day we went out there.”
The outdoor lab is the newest example of how OSUIT’s Pipeline Integrity program continues to improve and expand with the help and support of industry partners like Phillips 66 because they know how important it is to have skilled and trained technicians in the field, Bartlett said.
“The goal of the Pipeline Integrity program is to keep the public, the environment and the pipeline facility safe,” he said. “This training facility will help achieve that goal.”