QEP Resources, Inc. Invests in the Future of Local Communities Through PLTW

(July 28, 2015) QEP Resources, Inc. has invested to expand Project Lead The Way (PLTW) in school districts across its areas of operation. The leading independent crude oil and natural gas exploration and production company views the expansion of PLTW as a way to support the economic vitality of its local communities in Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.

When the company was developing a philanthropic strategy about two years ago, it was clear that investing in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education was the priority, said Shanda Vangas, manager of community investments & partnerships at QEP.

“We wanted to do something in the community that made a real difference and had a lasting impact,” Vangas said. “[PLTW] is something that can work in small, large, urban, and rural districts and it has been proven to be effective.”

The goal of the investment, she said, is to increase the number of students who excel in STEM subjects and pursue STEM degrees, and to increase the competencies in STEM for all students.

“Our investments in Project Lead The Way are very important to the company. Strengthening the communities in which we live and work is a top priority, and we have to plan for the future of our industry,” Vangas said. “If we want to have a thriving economy, we need a pipeline of smart, talented workers.”

Both QEP Resources and PLTW are committed to establishing partnerships that go beyond providing financial support. QEP employees have visited PLTW classrooms in many of the communities they support. During a recent visit, QEP employees witnessed third graders testing aerodynamics with paper planes and middle school students designing bridges, among other projects.

PLTW students also have the opportunity to visit QEP and see what careers in STEM really look like.

“Our employees have informal conversations with the students about where they went to college, their personal background, their current job, and how they use the STEM skills that the students are learning in the classroom,” Vangas said.

In Denver, the company hosts groups of students six times a year to learn about the industry. PLTW students get a high-level overview of the oil and gas business, discover the uses of petroleum and learn about the various career options.  The highlight of the events is meeting with QEP staff from six disciplines for roundtable discussions. The roundtables combine disciplines so students learn how the various jobs intersect and collaborate with each other. For example, students meet with health safety and environmental engineers and operations engineers together because they work closely in real life and students can see first-hand how these practices are connected.

QEP also invites teachers to spend a full day with engineers and geoscientists to learn about the pathways to those careers. Teachers also have the chance to absorb real-world examples and problems that they can use in the classroom to supplement basic principles.

In Utah, at the Uintah School District, QEP’s operations and geoscience managers have gone into middle school classrooms to talk about geology and the different career and educational paths within the oil and gas industry.While QEP partners with each district differently, no matter the location, the relationship between the company and the schools is marked by a commitment to the students.

“As a funder and supporter of STEM, we want to be an active partner with the schools. We keep an open dialogue so we can work through challenges together,” Vangas said.  “From our side, it’s a great employee engagement effort. Our people are super passionate about STEM. They love their jobs, and this reminds them of it. It’s a point of pride for our employees.”

The work of PLTW could not be done without the critical community partnerships and support of industry leaders.

“PLTW is grateful for the support of QEP in increasing access to exceptional learning experiences for the students in their communities,” said Robin Schott, vice president of the West Central Region for Project Lead The Way.

QEP Resources has invested $1.7 million to expand PLTW in six of its communities. Below is the list of school districts the company has supported to expand or implement PLTW during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years:

  • Tulsa Public School District, Oklahoma
  • Desoto Parish School District, Louisiana
  • Uintah County School District, Utah
  • Sublette County School District, Wyoming
  • Alexander Public School, North Dakota
  • McKenzie County School District, North Dakota
  • New Town School District, North Dakota
  • Denver Public Schools, Colorado