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    Convenience Cos. up the Community Service Ante

    Cumberland Farms to open application period for college scholarship; meanwhile, BP donates virtual equipment and funds to local college.

    CANTON, Mass. -- For its second year, the Cumberland Farms Believe and Achieve Scholarship application period will begin Oct. 1. The program provides individual $1,000 scholarships to eligible graduating high school seniors living in the company’s service areas, the company stated.

    "There is a tremendous amount of bright students who need help easing the financial weight of a college education," Cumberland Farms CEO Lily Bentas said in a written statement. "That is why we're so proud of our Believe and Achieve program. Last year, we were able to help 79 motivated students by assisting in the costs of paying for books or tuition. We're looking forward to being able to help more again this year."

    The scholarship program is open to children of Cumberland Farms employees and students living within 30 miles of any Cumberland Farms outlet in the Northeast and Florida. To be eligible, students must be planning to enter college in the fall of 2008. In addition to academic performance, the award also considers students' financial need, according to the company.

    Cumberland Farms encourages eligible high school seniors to apply as soon as the application period opens. Information about the Believe and Achieve Scholarship, including entry criteria and deadlines, can be found at www.cumberlandfarms.com, as well as all Cumberland Farms' store locations.

    In other community service news, BP is donating its production equipment to the San Juan College School of Energy, where a team of a computer animation experts along with a financial donation from BP is allowing the instructors to create simulations of oil and natural gas production equipment, the Farmington Daily Times reported.

    Through the program, students have switched from in-the-field experiences to an in-depth virtual tour, the report stated. The three-dimensional computer programs allow students to tour equipment and view it from any angle, BP spokesman Dan Larson told the paper.

    "It provides a way to get inside one of these [pieces of equipment] and turn the valves and push the buttons," he said. "If you want to look at the thing from the bottom up, you can manipulate it. You can even go inside of it. It's a way to see what happens under different conditions and for students to ask 'What if?' and see the results without actually being in the field."

    BP entered into an agreement last week with the college to provide $750,000 over three years to the School of Energy for animated curriculum development, the Farmington Daily Times reported. The curriculum is debuting in the San Juan Basin, however other schools and companies will follow BP’s lead, Larson said.

    "This is a unique, one-of-a-kind program, and it's going to go a long way in putting San Juan College on the map." he told the paper.

    As part of the program, the school expects to create simulations of 21 pieces of equipment over the next three years. Initial pieces include a compressor, separator and wellhead, which will be complete by the end of the year, Randy Pacheco, dean of the School of Energy, told the paper. Animated programs will include color, sound and text descriptions in English, Spanish and Navajo, the report stated.

    Students who complete the curriculum will be better qualified and more independent in the field, Kelly Hart, manager of BP's Farmington Operations Center, told the paper. While the program is funded by BP, the curriculum is available to any student, regardless of where they seek employment, he said.

    "The younger generation learns by computer," Hart told the Times. "Once they have an understanding of the operation, then when they're out in the field where they can't see what's going on in there, they'll know. Otherwise, it's just a chunk of steel with stuff happening inside."

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