The University of Wyoming and WPX Energy cut the ribbon yesterday on a new drilling simulator teaching laboratory that lets students experience what it’s like to drill an oil well.

Funded with a $1 million gift from WPX Energy that was matched by the state, the 1,296-square-foot WPX Drilling Simulator Teaching Lab is located on the second floor of the UW Energy Innovation Center. It introduces students and industry personnel to realistic real-time simulations of normal and extra-normal drilling and well-control operations. It also expands UW College of Engineering and Applied Science course offerings and eventually will offer professional well control certifications for drillers.

“WPX Energy is proud to support the University of Wyoming and the installation of the new drilling simulator,” says Jerry Barnes, WPX Energy vice president of land and the company’s former vice president of the Powder River Basin. “This new technology will enhance the petroleum engineering program and raises the national profile of UW’s engineering program.”

After the ribbon cutting, students demonstrated how the simulator works.

Watch the videos below to see the simulator in action as students Shirah Reyher, Thomas Smith and Jacques White get a feel for what drilling would feel like in a real world situation.

Both videos show a worst case scenario for drilling. Alarms go off during both demonstrations (video one at :26 and video two at :58). There is some confusion, particularly in video 2 starting at 1:10. A fire even ignites in video 2 at 2:07.