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Australian Counsul-General Michael Wood visited the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) and the Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC) at the University of North Dakota (UND) to discuss research, collaboration, and comparisons between North Dakota and Australia when it comes to energy resources and production.

UND President Mark Kennedy welcomed Mr. Wood and Australian Consulate staff member Holly Jenkins at the CEC on campus. The group discussed exchange student programs and research opportunities in engineering at UND. College of Engineering and Mines Dean Hesham El-Rewini provided a tour of the simulation labs, and students demonstrated the practical skills and knowledge obtained through studying in that setting.

The visit concluded with a tour of the EERC, led by CEO Tom Erickson. The tour involved EERC staff explaining shale oil and discussed its production in the Bakken Formation in western North Dakota. The group talked about future collaboration on research and technologies to mitigate environmental impacts from energy use. EERC staff shared their experiences and knowledge in using fly ash from coal to strengthen concrete and the potential for finding rare-earth elements in North Dakota. Rare-earth elements are used in high-tech electronics like smart phones.

"We have had a long-standing relationship with Australian entities in advancing lignite and brown coals," said Erickson. "We look forward to the opportunity to expand Australian relationships into oil and gas production."

Mr. Wood's visit to the EERC was part of several stops made throughout North Dakota to discuss energy. The mission of the Australian Government is to strengthen the bond between Australia and the United States through advancing interests in trade and investment, politics, cultural exchange, and academia. As the Australian Counsul-General located in Chicago, Mr. Wood is responsible for carrying out the mission of the office in the Midwestern states.

Left to right: EERC CEO Tom Erickson, Consulate office staff member Holly Jenkins, UND President Mark Kennedy, Australian Counsul-General Michael Wood, EERC Communication Director Nikki Massmann, Institute for Energy Studies Executive Director Michael Mann, College of Engineering and Mines Dean Hesham El-Rewini, and International Center Director Katie Davidson.