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BCC's natural gas program receives gift of equipment from mentor
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A generous donation of equipment to Barton Community College’s Natural Gas Transmission and Distribution Program has given a substantial boost to the program and its students. Randy Suhm of Suhm Consulting from Sweetwater, Texas, a supporter and mentor of Barton’s Natural Gas Program from the beginning, has donated $26,696 worth of equipment to the program.

The gift comprises a total of 22 pieces of equipment, including a Nilsson Pipe/Cable Locator, Weston RPM Meter, TRW Calibrator/Tester, Chandler Dead Weight Tester, single-phase and three-phase Cathodic Protection Rectifiers and many other items that will give students hands-on experience with tools they will be using in the field.

Instructor and coordinator of Barton’s natural gas program Michael Baugh said the equipment will make a big difference in his classroom. "Before the donation, operation of much of the equipment has only been explored in theory and only seen on field trips," he said. "Now, we can see the equipment function in the classroom."

He said he wasn’t surprised by Suhm’s generous gift because Suhm has been one of the program’s strongest supporters since it began and he has the experience to know what a natural gas program needs. Prior to starting his consulting business, Suhm coordinated and instructed a similar natural gas program at Texas State Technical College. Baugh was an instructor in that program for four years.

Suhm later started his consulting business and became a mentor working with Barton’s natural gas program. Suhm not only helped design Barton’s curriculum and workstations; he also donated courseware that he had developed, and he taught some of Barton’s first natural gas classes.

However, when Executive Director of Workforce Training and Economic Development Julie Kramp sought an instructor/coordinator for Barton’s new program, Suhm chose not to go back to teaching but to continue his successful consulting business. He again was helpful to the program, though, by suggesting Baugh, his former employee and colleague, for the post.

"Mike is an excellent instructor," said Suhm. "He is the best at teaching for this industry. I wanted to help Julie and Mike have the necessary tools to use for instructional purposes to prepare their students for good employment opportunities."

"Randy continues to be an active member of our advisory committee and provides useful input to improving our program," Kramp said.

"Without Randy’s involvement, the natural gas program at Barton would never have started as quickly as it did," Baugh added. "Nor would it have addressed the needs of the industry as well as it does today. We are forever indebted to him for his guidance and generosity."

That said, Suhm takes a modest approach to his role in helping set up Barton’s natural gas program. "I believe in passing things on that will help others," he said. "It was only logical for me to give this equipment to a program that I want to be successful."