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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering Newsletter – Summer 2015

Alumni gift establishes endowed professorship in energy

Brion and Ronda Wise

Washington State University’s Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering has received a gift from alumnus Brion Wise to establish the B. Wise Professorship in Energy Production.

The gift will allow the Voiland School to grow its successful program to provide educational opportunities for students who, like Gene Voiland, Brion Wise and a host of alumni who preceded them, desire to become leaders in the petroleum production industry, said Jim Petersen, director of the Voiland School.

Petroleum demand continues to grow worldwide, while energy production and conversion technologies are undergoing dramatic, rapid changes. With a long tradition of producing graduates who become leaders in this industry, this gift helps the Voiland School continue to produce chemical engineers who are uniquely qualified to take a leadership role in meeting the needs of the energy sector.

The school’s research in catalysis is leading to more efficient production of fuels and byproducts. In the past decade, the school has more than doubled its enrollment while also building stronger relationships in the industry. The gift supports hiring of a faculty member who will have enhanced industry collaboration, enabling the Voiland School to provide a transformational, high quality, highly relevant student experience and thus enabling the university to achieve one of its two primary strategic emphases.

“As world energy use continues to rise, our Voiland School chemical engineers will be critically needed to develop the best and most efficient technologies to meet demand,” said Jim Petersen, director of the Voiland School. “With this gift, we can now provide an enhanced education for our students that will prepare them to become leaders in the industry and help meet the industry’s future production needs.”

“At the same time, Brion’s generous gift will also grow the Voiland School’s stature,” he added. “We are so grateful for his support.”

After graduating from WSU with a chemical engineering degree in 1968, Wise went to work for Shell Oil. He went on to found Western Gas Resources in 1971, serving as director, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president. He is now chairman of the board at Flat Iron Resources, an oil and gas exploration and production company. He also is owner of B Wise Vineyards, which is located in Sonoma, CA, where he applies chemical engineering principles to enable the production of high quality wines.