BSC negotiating to deliver energy training in Saudi Arabia
Bismarck State College (BSC) is negotiating the final details of a contract with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to be the sole provider of energy training for citizens of that country. The effort is part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 which includes initiatives to lessen the kingdom’s reliance on foreign workers by providing internationally accredited and specialized diploma programs for Saudi high school graduates.
BSC was chosen as the provider after responding to a global RFP issued by the Saudi Arabia’s College of Energy and the National Power Academy (NPA), a public-private training academy backed by leading Saudi power sector companies Saudi Aramco and Saudi Electricity Company as well as international energy companies including General Electric and Siemens.
“We are incredibly proud to have been chosen to deliver this training out of a global pool of responders. We have the ability, the curriculum and the experience to deliver, we are now doing our due diligence to get the guarantees and assurances necessary to ensure we will be successful,” says BSC President Larry C. Skogen.
Saudi students enrolled in the NPA in Kingdom as non-credit students, and will be trained in multiple energy programs on site at the NPA in Dammam, Saudi Arabia beginning later in 2018.
Skogen notes that now is the time for such a pursuit. “Over the past couple of years, budget challenges have made the pursuit of additional revenue streams an imperative. We see this venture as a new source of revenue for the institution, and will use the profits to benefit our campus here.”
Potential profits could reach several million dollars annually.
Should the partnership move forward, BSC National Energy Center of Excellence (NECE) Project Manager Zak Allen will be the general manager, and will stand up the program in Saudi Arabia. Involved in the negotiations since the beginning, Allen has significant international training experience in energy. He has led the Curriculum Design Center at BSC since 2010.
BSC would manage the facility, deliver the training and curriculum. The NPA partners will provide the furniture, facility, as well as the equipment and lab setup which will duplicate some of the labs found at BSC.
“BSC is already a leader in energy education and training within the U.S. and offers online programs internationally. This project allows us to bring our curriculum and education methodologies to a brand-new market, the Middle East. Not only are we well positioned to provide these services, but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in need of them and going through transformative changes in education right now. Operating in a foreign country may seem daunting, but we have great support from the NPA stakeholders, and we would be replicating what we do each day here in Bismarck,” Allen says.
While BSC currently delivers online training around the world, if this partnership moves forward it would mark the first time BSC would deliver extended face-to-face classes in a foreign country.
“We have truly global capabilities in the ND University System. You see that across the system and you see it with this initiative. I commend BSC for pursuing this contract, and I’m excited to see them working toward applying their expertise on an international level,” says NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott.
BSC has been a leader in energy education for decades providing thousands of technical experts to the energy workforce through its 12 accredited energy programs. In 2007, the U.S. Secretary of Energy designated BSC as the National Power Plant Operations Technology and Educational Center – the only such school in the nation – in recognition of BSC’s “cutting-edge education and training program.”
BSC’s energy programs are housed in the NECE on the BSC campus, and it was a visit to that facility by the NPA partners that secured the deal, according to Skogen.
“When they saw the National Energy Center of Excellence, they said ‘this is exactly what we want in Saudi Arabia.’ Seeing our state-of-the-art labs, the curriculum and simulations really cinched the deal for them.”
All programs would be delivered in English. NPA students will study English, math and basic science for six months, then engage in technical training for 18 months. They will complete their training with one year of on-the-job training.
Students will attend classes for 32 hours per week, and are sponsored by NPA partners. Students are paid to train for the jobs awaiting them upon completion of the program.