WTAMU Prepares Grads for Fast-Changing Energy Industry

Jun 04, 2018

CONTACT: Dr. Gerald Schultz, 806-651-2580,

COPY BY: Brittany Castillo, 806-651-2682,

CANYON, Texas—At the epicenter of the oil industry, Texas is the leading state for opportunities in oil and gas exploration. For decades, a sure way to begin a career in fossil fuels included a degree in geology, but as the industry advances, so must the college curriculum. Fortunately, West Texas A&M University has restructured to fit this need with an environmental science and geology program.

The rapidly evolving energy industry has expanded to include more sustainable energy systems including wind, water and solar power. To remain current, studies are no longer exclusive in one subject but instead include courses like environmental law, hydrogeology, sampling and interpretation as well as historical and physical geology all in one degree option. The broader degree encompasses the future of science without neglecting present methods of earth research.

“Rather than competing specialties, we are bringing it altogether to train well-rounded students. We have adapted the program so our graduates can survive the changing and growing job climate,” Dr. Gerald Schultz, professor of geology, said. “We need more scientists, so if a student has the slightest interest in science, I say look into it. The biggest obstacle is not knowing what is available, but you don’t have to know which field you want to specialize in until your master’s and most often your doctoral degree.”

From this specialization, students can prepare for careers in the oil and gas industry, geological surveying, ground water and other research for government agencies and consulting firms, but it is not limited there. Some students go on to study paleontology and botany with a solid foundation of rock and earth studies.  

“My plans after graduation are to apply to graduate school and study marine geology. After that, I would like to work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to possibly study the ocean floor,” Keila Davila, an environmental science/geology major, said. “I chose this degree because of my interest in the environment and the impact humans have on it.”

The environmental science and geology program is growing. With furnished laboratories and field equipment for research, WTAMU caters to an advanced science-based education for a deeper understanding of the interaction between people and the environment.

“Our department houses museum-quality collections of environmental and geological specimens for use by students, faculty and qualified outside researchers,” Dr. Naruki Hiranuma, assistant professor of environmental sciences, said. “We aim to foster self-directed learners who are creative, productive, collaborative and agile as well as strengthening cultural competence, developing problem-solving skills applicable in real-world environmental issues and leading to scientific breakthrough.”

For more information about the environmental science with an emphasis in geology degree option, contact Dr. Gerald Schultz at or Dr. Naruki Hiranuma at