Also Monday, the state Industrial Commission, which oversees North Dakota's oil and natural gas regulation, approved a $4 million contribution to the project from a state oil and gas research fund, which would be paid in $1 million installments over four years.

The money will be used to equip the new college with advanced laboratory gear and an image library, boost pay for its faculty members and provide student scholarships. It expects to graduate at least 50 petroleum geologists and engineers each year, according to a commission filing that requested the aid.

Lance Yarbrough, an assistant professor in geographical and petroleum engineering, said the program should put UND on the national map for oil research.

"This is one of those opportunities that is kind of once in a lifetime," Yarbrough said. "When it comes to researching petroleum, and petroleum-related energy, it's an expensive task and we really like to see that industry is working with the research."

The state Geological Survey already stores rock samples from oil drilling in western North Dakota at a recently enlarged "core library," data from which is relied upon by the oil industry. About $1.5 million of the state contribution will go toward the library, which includes technology that allows for a virtual tour of the oil fields, Dalrymple said.

"This is a great example of the things that can come when we work together with the private sector, and begin to build education opportunities for our students in North Dakota," Dalrymple said. "These are great careers."

Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring make up the Industrial Commission. The agency also oversees two state-owned businesses, the Bank of North Dakota and the state Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks.

Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, said only schools outside North Dakota, such as Montana Tech of the University of Montana, offer training similar to what will be available at the new North Dakota school.

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