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Baker Hughes opens state-of-the-art training facility in Tomball

Community leaders and industry leaders came together to take a step into Tomball’s future on Thursday, May 15.

The Baker Hughes Western Hemisphere Education Center held a ribbon cutting and grand opening. The 90,000-square-foot classroom building is designed for efficient, high-caliber training and innovation. The building currently houses 21 classrooms, with six more being planned. At any given time, the center will hold approximately 500 students and as many as 100 training personnel.

“I sincerely hope you will share the pride in this new facility,” Didier Charreton, Vice President of Human Resources for Baker Hughes said. “We know that education doesn’t end when we leave school. Training and education are core values at Baker Hughes. That is evident by the investment that we have made here.”

Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce President Bruce Hillegeist welcomed Baker Hughes to Tomball, saying the city is in a way going back to its roots.

“Really Tomball’s roots are in energy,” he said. “In 1933 there was a gusher out on the Kobes property. In the 40s Tomball was declared Oil Town USA. I think it is ironic that Tomball is kind of going back to its roots of energy. We are so happy that Baker Hughes has chosen Tomball as a home for its Western Hemisphere Training Center.”

The complex, built on a 100-acre parcel of land owned by Baker Hughes, features a classroom building, a 162,000-square-foot training yard, and a workshop. The only other facility similar to this one was built in Dubai four years ago.

“We know that Dubai has an indoor ski resort and the largest mall in the world and manmade islands,” Hillegeist said. “But, the people here in Tomball are what are going to make you happy. Baker Hughes has really put Tomball on the map in the world.”

Baker Hughes CEO and Chairman Martin Craighead said Baker Hughes has been looking forward to the opening of the center for a long time.

“It is a very special place,” he said. “Last week we hosted our investor conference here. Many of the world’s investors today won’t pay for education. That is very inconsistent with the thoughts of Baker Hughes. We said we are going to have dinner here with you and they were blown away.”

Craighead said education is so important in so many dimensions of society and that the industry is changing so dramatically that it is in a constant state of change. The center will help to keep up with the education needed to stay at the top.

The training center is a cross-training facility designed to train Baker Hughes employees from all product lines. Training encompasses classroom learning, hands-on mechanical and electrical training in our workshop labs, and field operations training on rigs and wells. The Tomball facility replaces seven other legacy training centers across the hemisphere, the Center primarily serves our North America and our Latin America regions, but welcomes attendees from the Europe/Africa/Russia Caspian and Middle East/Asia Pacific regions as well.

“When I had the opportunity to meet two or three years ago with Mayor Fagan and her staff after we purchased the BJ facility across the street, I remember telling them that we wanted to get to know the Tomball area a little better,” Craighead said. “If we really liked what we saw we would do more. This is the first step in that, but it won’t be the last step.”

Baker Hughes made a step towards that with a $10,000 donation to the Tomball Scholarship Foundation on behalf of the Baker Hughes Foundation.

“Wow! Is this an impressive facility,” Tomball Mayor Gretchen Fagan said. “You have definitely exceeded expectations. People are very impressed when you say there are only two in the world, one in Dubai and one in Tomball. Not only does this facility provide education for your personnel. It also helps to strengthen Tomball’s status as a city with amazing potential.”

Fagan said the center will be a true game changer for the city.

“In the next 10 years this facility could bring more than $8 million to our community through increased sales tax, hotel occupancy tax and property tax,” she said. “The project gives Tomball a global presence. I’m very glad to have you here and that you have chosen to call Tomball home.”

Among the innovation learning methods found in the classroom building are bilingual and translated courses; “Innovative classrooms” that encourage small-team collaborative learning; a state-of-the-art telepresence classroom with HD video conferencing capabilities; and artwork that employs the LAYAR app, so that when the artwork is scanned, images take on new forms and content can be shared through social media channels.

The building’s energy-efficient atrium features two sandstone walls, as well as a sharing space, where students can have small breakout or ad hoc meetings. Laptop information can easily be shared on one of the three large multiple-use monitors.

The atrium includes a 24-panel mosaic screen—the largest fixed mosaic screen in North America. Its rotating messages and images communicate product line information, and industry news.

The 16-foot long interactive touch table shows the full Baker Hughes history, along with oil and gas industry events, and world events that have shaped our industry.

When the timeline is disengaged, the table becomes an engineering design table showing the interworking pieces of many of Baker Hughes technologies—again, another learning instrument within the center itself.

In the Pressure Pumping pad, Baker Hughes conducts hands-on training in cementing and blending operations for both land and offshore. Adjacent to the pad is the coiled tubing area, where two test wells are located.

The first well is a 1,000-ft vertical well. The other well is used for horizontal well training.

The gantry area contains six wells in total. Four 1,000-foot wells are used by the Baker Hughes Wireline Services group. Two of these wells are cased wells and two are “openhole” wells, which contain fiberglass casing instead of steel. This allows us to run tools that need an openhole environment in which to work.

The wells on the outside of the gantry are 600-ft wells and are used primarily by our Artificial Lift and Sand Control training teams.

The training rig sits over a 1,600-foot well and includes a classroom adjacent to the rig floor, which enables real-time review and feedback, resulting in a faster, richer training experience. A second training rig is planned to sit over the 2,000-foot well also found in this area.

The 53,000 square-foot workshop building supports all training teams. In the workshop, technicians learn the mechanics of Baker Hughes’ tools—how to take them apart and put them back together.

The building also houses eight classrooms; cementing/fracturing simulation rooms; a 40-person fluids and chemicals lab; a mechanical, electrical and workmanship standards lab; and a cafeteria.