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Published September 18, 2023
Wyoming’s companies and university partner for the future.
By Tamara Linse and Angela Ver Ploeg, UW Foundation
As a land-grant institution and the state’s only four-year public university, the University of Wyoming has a deep commitment to serving the needs of the state. Wyoming’s companies want to do business well while providing vital services and supporting their employees.
UW and Wyoming have a lot to offer each other, and together we build a stronger future. Companies often look to UW to hire their future workforce, but there are many other ways big and small to partner with UW. It’s a win-win.
Based in Sheridan, EMIT Technologies is an industrial fabricator that provides manufacturing solutions with in-house design, engineering, manufacturing, construction, technical support and customer service.
EMIT was founded on fabrication and manufacturing for the oil and gas industry. While oil and gas is still a large part of the company’s work, in 2019 it decided to diversify in response to industry uncertainty.
“The cyclical nature of the energy industry in Wyoming was really hard on EMIT — on our employees, our community and, obviously, the state as well,” COO Michelle Wilson says.
Now that EMIT was offering services to a broader scope of industry, its changing business model also changed its relationship with UW. EMIT had been partnering with UW’s mechanical and electrical engineering departments and sales program, but now it is also engaged with UW’s programs in construction management, software and electrical engineering, and computer science.
Like so many in Wyoming, EMIT has a long-term relationship with UW Athletics, having supported the Pokes for almost 20 years. In 2018, EMIT also made a gift to engineering — the EMIT Technologies Excellence Fund to Support Operations in the Advanced Manufacturing Lab, which provides funding for mechanical or electrical engineering student senior design teams and for entrepreneurial business startup teams.
Through the College of Business Center for Professional Selling, EMIT offers business students role-playing sessions in person and on Zoom, with EMIT acting as a customer and students acting as salespeople.
Another result is the formalization of the EMIT internship program. Currently, the company is hosting six UW interns from mechanical engineering, software engineering, construction management and sales.
“We’re really trying to do something special with this group of interns and give them an experience that reflects the best internship they could have,” says Wilson. “We’re setting them up for success and a really cool experience and tying in the Sheridan community.”
EMIT is looking to further explore its partnership with UW, which undoubtedly will provide benefits for years to come. EMIT looks forward to being on campus for EMIT Day in the fall of 2023.
“I think the state of Wyoming needs leaders,” Osborn says. “It needs risk takers, people with vision and the belief that it’s possible. It needs doers.”
Cheyenne Regional Medical Center
Cheyenne Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is a 184-bed hospital with exceptional patient care that is passionate about moving health care forward in the region. CRMC also is the largest employer of UW alumni in the state (besides state government and UW).
“We hear consistently from a variety of sources about what a great place Cheyenne Regional is to work, and I think that that is a huge attractant for many UW grads, myself included,” says Robin Roling, chief operating officer. But the UW-CRMC partnership is extensive and goes way beyond the hiring of graduates.
In 2020, CRMC made a five-year commitment to create a joint faculty position in nursing. Clinical Assistant Professor Niki Eisenmann works on site at CRMC while teaching in the nursing program at UW.
This UW-CRMC faculty partnership helps grow nurses within CRMC, teaches UW nursing students, helps current nurses select continuing education paths and coordinates clinical rotations at the hospital.
Training tomorrow’s health care professionals is a job CRMC takes very seriously. Under the supervision of a professional, clinical rotations and externships across the board offer students an opportunity to hone skills they will use in practice. CRMC touches practically every program in the College of Health Sciences — hosting clinical rotations and residency experiences for students in nursing, pharmacy, speech-language pathology, social work, kinesiology and health, and laboratory technicians.
“We have the only infectious disease pharmacist in the whole state of Wyoming, Dr. Nathan Parker,” says Tracy Garcia, CRMC’s chief nursing officer. “It’s really nice for the students to be able to do that infectious disease rotation here in our organization.”
CRMC is also engaged in the WWAMI Medical Education Program, a one-of-a-kind, multistate medical education program. Many of Wyoming’s physicians, including those at CRMC, are Wyoming students who come back to the state after completing their education at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
CRMC partners with UW’s Wyoming Center on Aging $3.75 million GWEP grant to help address the needs of Wyoming’s aging population. This is the second Health Resources and Services Administration Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Grant that the state has received, both administered by UW.
“Cheyenne Regional is a really special place,” Roling says.
Peabody serves customers on five continents from 17 mines in the U.S. and Australia. It is heavily invested in Wyoming and operates three coal mines in the Powder River Basin — including the world’s largest, the North Antelope Rochelle Mine, which produced 60 million tons of low-sulfur coal in 2022.
“We are committed to the state of Wyoming, and we’ve expressed that commitment in the research funding we’re providing to the School of Energy Resources,” says Scott Jarboe, Peabody’s chief administrative officer.
Peabody is forward-thinking in its commitment to investments in next-generation technologies, working with and supporting UW’s School of Energy Resources (SER) in their shared goal of innovation within the coal and carbon industry.
Philanthropically, Peabody’s latest gift supports innovation in the field of carbon engineering and carbon management in SER. In addition to this major gift, Peabody has pledged to support UW with a sustaining commitment of 1 cent per ton of Wyoming coal sold by Peabody to support projects that create alternative uses for coal and technologies.
One of the Peabody-supported projects in the Center for Carbon Capture and Conversion is coal char bricks and other coal-derived materials. Recently, SER built a demonstration house made of char bricks on campus and completed a full year of performance testing, with plans to incorporate other coal-derived materials in the future.
Char bricks are strong, porous, lightweight, fire-resistant, sustainable, recyclable, economical and competitive — an ideal next-generation use for coal. Other uses being explored are soil amendments that put nitrogen in the soil and help it retain moisture. Another use is asphalt and paving and roofing materials. Yet another is as a source of rare-earth elements that are used in tech devices such as smartphones, computer monitors, digital cameras, glass, batteries, magnets and steel alloys.
“Some people think about the coal mining industry as a headlamp and a pickaxe and a mule,” says Jarboe. “But it’s a high-tech industry in a way that most people don’t recognize, and that technology is happening in the state of Wyoming. We’re a cutting-edge industry, and the university is part of that technological drive.”
The UW-Peabody partnership also includes the company hiring UW graduates — but it would like to hire even more.
“It is our plan and our desire to hire a lot of University of Wyoming students,” says Jarboe. “We know the university has top-notch talent — and the practical learning that’s happening throughout the university, especially in the School of Energy Resources, is attractive across the industry.”
Trihydro is a national engineering and environmental consulting firm and also the largest engineering firm in the state. It is based in Laramie and got its start back in 1984. Its impact on Wyoming and the nation is diverse — energy, infrastructure, waste management, natural resources, mining, data management and the environment. The firm offers turnkey solutions for projects — from permitting and design to remediation, regulatory compliance and site closure.
“Our mission is centered on improving our communities and the environment one project at a time,” says Kurt Tuggle, president and CEO. “At Trihydro, everyone plays a role, and everyone’s contributions help us leave things better than we found them.”
While Trihydro’s business is mostly focused on engineering and the environment, it has a strong computing division as well, and it hires UW engineers, geologists, scientists, software engineers and others.
Supporting UW philanthropically since 1985, Trihydro recently established the Trihydro Scholarship for Engineering or Geology, which supports civil engineering and geology students.
“Trihydro’s values align with those at UW,” says Tuggle. “We share a focus on environmental stewardship, continuous learning, community engagement and helping conserve the Wyoming lifestyle we all love.”
A large portion of the company’s workforce is UW graduates. It is among the top 10 companies in the number of employees who graduated from UW in the state — 121 of the 500-plus employees. Trihydro prides itself on being a great place to work and was recently recognized on Outside Magazine’s list of Best Places to Work.
Trihydro proudly offers paid internships and participates in UW’s employment shadowing externship program. “It is rewarding to see our UW interns turn into UW alumni and choose to join our team full time,” says George Mathes, chief development officer.
Trihydro is active on campus, volunteering to coach and judge senior design competitions, and has also been the official recycling partner of UW Athletics for 15 years. The company has participated in Software Bootcamp, a collaborative effort of UW, Trihydro, the Wyoming Innovation Partnership and Cardiff University in which teams of students are given a problem and have two weeks to come up with a software solution.
Ethics are important to Trihydro’s culture and identity. Under the leadership of now-retired president and CEO Jack Bedessem, the company adopted Cowboy Ethics in 2005, long before the state did.
“We have a vested interest in UW’s programs related to leadership development and business ethics,” says Mathes. “The Center for Principle-based Leadership and Ethics and the Bill Daniels Ethical Leadership Program are two prime examples of how UW is leading the way in developing the next generation of the workforce.”