Engineering Careers

Working in petroleum: it’s a sweet job

Who knew that heavy crude oil could be delicious?

Secondary students at the Bayflower International School in Benin City, Nigeria, were treated to some fun and educational experiments recently through SPE’s Energy4me program. The 30 students had a taste of the types of work that petroleum engineers do in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas.

Students experiment on extracting oil in this experiment.

Through the Energy4me presentation, students learned the importance of pursuing STEM-related school subjects and career paths. SPE member Akwiwu Ugochi, projects officer for Nigerian Petroleum Development Co., led the presentation, which included an activity called Getting the Oil Out. This simple experiment explains how artificial lift extracts light and heavy crude.

Of course, Energy4me does not recommend tasting crude oil! In our experiment, light crude is represented by soda while chocolate syrup stands in for heavy crude. Hence, its tastiness! “Heavy crude tastes delicious, but is a lot of work to extract,” one student told Ugochi. She also had the students perform the Sedimentation Bottle experiment, which illustrates in a very simplistic way why the different layers of sub-surface materials formed the way that they did.

I enjoyed taking the class, and the students’ energy was quite infectious,” Ugochi said. “I also was able to talk about oil spillage, environmental implication and clean-up during the Getting the Oil Out activity when we had an issue of a ‘pipe’ rupture with one of the straw tubes.”

Akwiwu Ugochi hands out materials for an experiment.

Having industry professionals come into the classroom and interact with students via Energy4me highlights the importance of making the right decisions during early stages of an engineering project. Students not only learn about the industry through the Energy4me hands-on activities, but also hear about the lives of the engineers through a career talk and question and answer session.

Energy4me is not a boring lecture, and combining the hands-on activities with a discussion about life in the industry helps students put a face to the industry and understand what is required to be successful.

The Energy4me excitement is evident in the students’ reactions. They said the presentation was “very enlightening and educational.” As an SPE member giving an Energy4me presentation, you know you are successful when a student asks “if the engineers can come back again.”

Or course, teachers love Energy4me also. Program resources are available free to the teachers, allowing them to further educate their students in a fun and dynamic way. The teacher asked Ugochi if she could conduct similar sessions with the students during regular class time. Absolutely – Energy4me provides instructions for many hands-on activities for all grade levels.

Shaking up a bottle to learn how sediment forms under the earth’s crust.

“As I left the classroom that day, the teacher said the presentation was fun, and it made the students interested in science,” Ugochi said. “I look forward to doing more Energy4me presentations and encouraging my section members to do likewise.”

Want to volunteer in your community? Contact energyed@spe.org for more information.

Q&A: Chevron exec encourages more girls to enter male-dominated technical fields

By Jordan Blum April 6, 2018

A Houston native, Janeen Judah was one of the few women to take up petroleum engineering in the 1970s. Fast forward, 40 years and she’s retiring this month as an executive at Chevron and as the president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. She’s leaving her position as the general manager of Chevron’s Southern Africa business.

She’ll keep serving as a new board member for Houston drilling and fracking firm Patterson-UTI Energy, but Judah also wants to encourage more girls and young women to enter the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — that too-often remain male-dominated.

Q: What made you interested in the energy sector, and petroleum engineering in particular?

A: My dad was in the midstream (energy) business. He was and is an engineer. I’ve found that a lot of women who went into engineering in that first wave in the ’70s — a lot of them are either daughters or younger sisters of engineers. It was not something you kind of picked out of the sky normally as a major. I was always a problem solver, and that was really what appealed to me about engineering — the analytical side of it. And I was fascinated by the oil business. You grow up in Houston back then and it was very prevalent and a very fascinating wildcatter kind of business. There was no doubt I wanted to go work in the oil industry.

Q: You earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University. What was the experience and culture like then?

A: Back then, in the late 70s, only about 10 percent of the engineering students were women. It was pretty thin as far as how many women were there. There are some who stuck with it for an entire career, but I’d say probably about half of them ended up laid off in the ’80s or made a choice to stay home. From about ’86 until almost the late ’90s, there were layoffs every year or two at most companies. A lot of them left the industry.

Q: You worked with ARCO before joining Texaco and then Chevron. How was it starting your career in Midland with small companies and then ARCO?

A: I used to always have to explain where the Permian Basin was to people, and nobody asks that question anymore. I lived out there during the ’80s. It was tough times for all of my early career.

Q: Was it particularly tough as a woman?

A: When I first went there it was still the boom and women were extremely unusual in the business. When you went out in the field it was like an event. You were rare and unusual. When I had my first interview out there it was at the old Midland Petroleum Club and women were still not allowed to be members. They had to get special permission for me to eat. That’s the way it was in 1980. Now, it’s much more common to see women. But, back then, you were highly unusual. Almost every industry is male dominated. Energy is maybe a little more macho industry, or maybe more aggressively male than some other places.

Q: Was harassment prevalent?

A: It would generally open like, ‘What’s a women doing here?’ kind of thing. But it wasn’t that common. They knew you were there to do a job and they let you do it. I never experienced anything that was too egregious. It’s a good-paying job, and you work in the field, and you have to be a little tough. And, often as an engineer, you’re the one in charge, so you had to be authoritative. If you were a female rig supervisor, they’ll call you the company man. That’s just the job title.

Q: Is it frustrating to be singled out as a female leader or do you welcome the role model position?

A: Generally, we all want to be treated equally and fairly in our workplace — to just be treated as most of the guys. But we realize — at least I realized —that after a certain point you are an example. You have a duty and an obligation to be visible and to step up and help coach, mentor and give advice to the women who are following you. A lot of us have started doing that. I want to try to make the path easier for others, because mine was hard.

 Q: What’s your point of focus?

A: I personally tend to target mentoring the mid-career technical women. There’s not many like me who are late career with technical backgrounds. I can help with those hard decisions that a lot of women generally make in their mid-30s. I always get asked about work-life balance. I tell them I don’t really believe in a work-life balance; it’s more work-life compromise. Social media doesn’t help where people think everything can be perfect with Instagram and Pinterest. That’s just unrealistic. I don’t know anyone who had it all at the same time. Some things come off the table at certain phases in your life. There are compromises and decisions. If if you have a family and there’s another career involved, then there’s decisions you need to make as a family. I think a lot of women have an unrealistic expectation that there’s some kind of magical balance you can get.

Q: What do you tell them?

A: I talk a lot about perseverance. A lot of women are socialized differently. Little boys, especially through sports, if they get knocked down it’s OK. There’s no broken bones, dust them off, put them back in the game. They’re socialized to not quit and to persevere. I think a lot of girls — it’s, oh, you fell down, sit over here. We socialize that it’s OK to withdraw. I coach mid-career women when they’re facing setbacks or problems to stay in the game.

Q: So it happens from an early age?

A: A lot of girls are discouraged, particularly in high school, from going into engineering by their parents or by school counselors. I don’t think it’s held up as being a good career choice for a girl. They tend to think the boys will be mean and you’ll have to go work out on a construction site or whatever. And you don’t. A lot of what we do is computer based and in an office. If someone’s majoring in environmental policy I ask why did they pick that? If they want to save the planet, why didn’t they go into environmental engineering? They could actually do something to save the planet. A lot of the grand challenges of society are engineering problems – clean air, clean water, clean energy, pollution. I don’t want to scare them off. I want to encourage them to stick with STEM. It makes so many career options open up for girls.

Source: Houston Chronicle: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Q-A-Chevron-exec-encourages-more-girls-to-enter-12810483.php?utm_campaign=linkedin-mobile&utm_source=CMS%20Sharing%20Button&utm_medium=social

 

Q&A: Chevron exec encourages more girls to enter male-dominated technical fields

By Jordan Blum April 6, 2018

A Houston native, Janeen Judah was one of the few women to take up petroleum engineering in the 1970s. Fast forward, 40 years and she’s retiring this month as an executive at Chevron and as the president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. She’s leaving her position as the general manager of Chevron’s Southern Africa business.

She’ll keep serving as a new board member for Houston drilling and fracking firm Patterson-UTI Energy, but Judah also wants to encourage more girls and young women to enter the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — that too-often remain male-dominated.

Q: What made you interested in the energy sector, and petroleum engineering in particular?

A: My dad was in the midstream (energy) business. He was and is an engineer. I’ve found that a lot of women who went into engineering in that first wave in the ’70s — a lot of them are either daughters or younger sisters of engineers. It

was not something you kind of picked out of the sky normally as a major. I was always a problem solver, and that was really what appealed to me about engineering — the analytical side of it. And I was fascinated by the oil business. You grow up in Houston back then and it was very prevalent and a very fascinating wildcatter kind of business. There was no doubt I wanted to go work in the oil industry.

Q: You earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University. What was the experience and culture like then?

A: Back then, in the late 70s, only about 10 percent of the engineering students were women. It was pretty thin as far as how many women were there. There are some who stuck with it for an entire career, but I’d say probably about half of them ended up laid off in the ’80s or made a choice to stay home. From about ’86 until almost the late ’90s, there were layoffs every year or two at most companies. A lot of them left the industry.

Q: You worked with ARCO before joining Texaco and then Chevron. How was it starting your career in Midland with small companies and then ARCO?

A: I used to always have to explain where the Permian Basin was to people, and nobody asks that question anymore. I lived out there during the ’80s. It was tough times for all of my early career.

Q: Was it particularly tough as a woman?

A: When I first went there it was still the boom and women were extremely unusual in the business. When you went out in the field it was like an event. You were rare and unusual. When I had my first interview out there it was at the old Midland Petroleum Club and women were still not allowed to be members. They had to get special permission for me to eat. That’s the way it was in 1980. Now, it’s much more common to see women. But, back then, you were highly unusual. Almost every industry is male dominated. Energy is maybe a little more macho industry, or maybe more aggressively male than some other places.

Q: Was harassment prevalent?

A: It would generally open like, ‘What’s a women doing here?’ kind of thing. But it wasn’t that common. They knew you were there to do a job and they let you do it. I never experienced anything that was too egregious. It’s a good-paying job, and you work in the field, and you have to be a little tough. And, often as an engineer, you’re the one in charge, so you had to be authoritative. If you were a female rig supervisor, they’ll call you the company man. That’s just the job title.

Q: Is it frustrating to be singled out as a female leader or do you welcome the role model position?

A: Generally, we all want to be treated equally and fairly in our workplace — to just be treated as most of the guys. But we realize — at least I realized —that after a certain point you are an example. You have a duty and an obligation to be visible and to step up and help coach, mentor and give advice to the women who are following you. A lot of us have started doing that. I want to try to make the path easier for others, because mine was hard.

 Q: What’s your point of focus?

A: I personally tend to target mentoring the mid-career technical women. There’s not many like me who are late career with technical backgrounds. I can help with those hard decisions that a lot of women generally make in their mid-30s. I always get asked about work-life balance. I tell them I don’t really believe in a work-life balance; it’s more work-life compromise. Social media doesn’t help where people think everything can be perfect with Instagram and Pinterest. That’s just unrealistic. I don’t know anyone who had it all at the same time. Some things come off the table at certain phases in your life. There are compromises and decisions. If if you have a family and there’s another career involved, then there’s decisions you need to make as a family. I think a lot of women have an unrealistic expectation that there’s some kind of magical balance you can get.

Q: What do you tell them?

A: I talk a lot about perseverance. A lot of women are socialized differently. Little boys, especially through sports, if they get knocked down it’s OK. There’s no broken bones, dust them off, put them back in the game. They’re socialized to not quit and to persevere. I think a lot of girls — it’s, oh, you fell down, sit over here. We socialize that it’s OK to withdraw. I coach mid-career women when they’re facing setbacks or problems to stay in the game.

Q: So it happens from an early age?

A: A lot of girls are discouraged, particularly in high school, from going into engineering by their parents or by school counselors. I don’t think it’s held up as being a good career choice for a girl. They tend to think the boys will be mean and you’ll have to go work out on a construction site or whatever. And you don’t. A lot of what we do is computer based and in an office. If someone’s majoring in environmental policy I ask why did they pick that? If they want to save the planet, why didn’t they go into environmental engineering? They could actually do something to save the planet. A lot of the grand challenges of society are engineering problems – clean air, clean water, clean energy, pollution. I don’t want to scare them off. I want to encourage them to stick with STEM. It makes so many career options open up for girls.

Source: Houston Chronicle: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Q-A-Chevron-exec-encourages-more-girls-to-enter-12810483.php?utm_campaign=linkedin-mobile&utm_source=CMS%20Sharing%20Button&utm_medium=social

Sometimes, the right equipment is a spoon

It pays to have the right tool.

That’s the lesson high school students in San Antonio, Texas, learned during an Energy4me workshop. Nearly 100 students competed in the hands-on activity, which challenges them to produce and refine the most amount of oil in the quickest time with the least (or no) amount of spillage or other complications.

Just like real life!

During the activity, students can purchase or exchange various tools that represent advancing technologies in oil and gas exploration. In one game, they learn about exploration, project management and negotiating.

“I loved the peak oil game because it taught me the importance of having the right equipment and right team when doing a task,” one student said.

The Society of Petroleum Engineers conducts Energy4me workshops and presentations all over the world. Through extensive use of hands-on activities, this innovating program, working in conjunction with the NEED project, encourages students to study engineering. In particular, the peak oil game teaches students the value of exploring for and producing hydrocarbons.

Studies prove that hands-on activities create connections between the classroom and real-world situations. This style of teaching also nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are traits that many employers value.

“The Energy4me workshops not only are a lot of fun for the students, but they also are incredibly educational,” said Mary Spruill, NEED executive director. “Because we use hands-on activities, students do not passively listen to a lecture; they must think through a problem or situation. They learn that they can interpret data, which is a fundamental skill for engineers.”

After completing the activity portion of the workshop, students were then treated to a tour of the exhibition floor where they see all of the technology they just learned. The tour is a true highlight of the workshop and the only way that students can access an SPE exhibit floor.

At the same time, the students were learning about oil and gas, 20 science teachers took part in a separate workshop. Energy4me believes that if we educate a teacher, we educate generations of aspiring engineers.

A 5th grade science teacher said, “I now see the importance of combining hands-on experiments with theory to help increase students understanding.”

Teachers receive a free digital version of the Energy4me teacher kit, which includes many resources that they can take back to the classroom. Teachers also get an exhibition tour.

 

 

SPE Colombia Teaches Energy4me to 600 Students

 In July, 32 SPE members volunteered to teach the Energy4me program to nearly 600 6th and 7th grade students at the San Jose de Orito School and Jorge Eliecer Gaitan School in Orito, Colombia. The three-day event was a big hit among students and teachers. “With students, it is always important to do a hands-on activity since they are very curious,” said Jenny Bravo, teacher at San Jose de Orito School. “The activity is a motivation for their classes; many of them want to be engineers. When the students work with the volunteers, they have an incentive to continue their studies in university. I notice you were able to motivate them.”

Orange, silver and gold – a quick lesson in density

Which is more dense – an orange inside its skin or an orange that has been peeled?

Parents can easily conduct an experiment on density at home. It’s fun for mom and dad to perform hands-on science experiments together, so we created a low-cost experiment that uses household items.

First, get a clear vessel – such as a big glass bowl – and fill it with water. Then grab various items such as fruit (oranges and apples), corks, coins, rocks and a half-filled water bottle.

With younger children, ask them if the cork or the rock would sink. For older children, present a real-life situation such as the sinking of the Titanic. Ask real-life density examples such as how does a life jacket provide flotation and how does a massive steel ship float.

For those students who excel at the toughest density experiments, it’s time to present the Archimedes’ principle for density. An ancient Greek mathematician and engineer, Archimedes devised a method to test if a crown was forged of solid gold, or if silver diluted the gold crown of King Hiero II. When submerged in water, the crown would displace an amount of water equal to its own volume. This density would be lower than that of gold if cheaper and less dense metals had been added. Archimedes’ experiment proved that silver had been added to the king’s crown.

I would hate to be that goldsmith who cheated the king!

To try this at home, parents should explain the principle of density and perform the experiment. To test your child’s knowledge, ask him or her to explain the concept and perform the experiment on their own then justify the result.”

Ah, and to the question posed at the beginning of this story – did you get the right answer? The peeled orange sinks like a rock. The rind of an orange is full of tiny air pockets which help give it a lower density than water, making it float to the surface.

Offshore Technology Conference- Bringing Teachers and Students Together with the Industry

For the ninth consecutive year, the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) invited Houston-area K-12 teachers and high school students to attend the Energy Institute. This one day workshop highlights the offshore energy industry, the science and technology it uses, and the careers that make it all possible. Nearly 100 teachers and 125 students saw firsthand the latest technology and equipment companies use to access and recover some of our world’s most valuable resources, oil and natural gas.

Chris Del Campo

Teachers began their day with an engaging keynote speaker, Chris Del Campo, a Mechanical Metier Manager with Schlumberger Oilfield Services. Taking a walk through time, he led the teachers from the use of whale oil to the first well drilled for oil in Titusville, Penn., all the way up to the cutting edge technologies used today.

His talk was a perfect introduction to what they saw displayed on the OTC exhibit floor. To finish out the workshop, the teachers were led through experiments by instructors from the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED). Each breakout focused on hands-experiments they can do in their classrooms – breaking down the scientific principals used by industry professionals every day.

16OTC_dlr_Teacher_Worshops_4_02464

Teachers work through the perforated well casing activity in their breakout session.

The students’ workshop kicked off with a unique challenge called Peak Oil, a NEED activity that aims to explore the production process and its advancing technologies to better extract petroleum for products and energy use. The student groups went through simulated challenges such as oil spills, refinery contamination and reduced production over time.

In the end, the students discussed the challenges they had, the economic strategies they used and their evolving business models.

16OTC_RSC_3599

Students tour the OTC exhibition floor, learning about the technology on display.

The students then had their turn on the exhibition floor. Competing in a scavenger hunt, the students gathered information from the company booths and industry professionals they spoke with. They were able to see the wide variety of careers available and learn about the education and training necessary to acquire those positions.

At the end of the day, the volunteers that help make this day possible are just as thrilled to be involved as the teachers and students. Being a part of inspiring the industries next generation of scientist and engineers is what makes the Energy Institute so successful each year.

Saudi Arabia ATS&E and Think Science Fair 2015

Our energy4me team in the SPE Dubai office has been quite busy in energy education the past few months, including our first ever event in Saudi Arabia! Check out details and pictures below.

Annual Technical Symposium and Exhibition

Held annually in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, ATS&E is considered a prime event that highlights the mission of the Society of Petroleum Engineers – Saudi Arabia Section in providing a means for trading technical information concerning the oil and gas industry. Energy4me had the privilege of being invited to host an energy4me teacher and student workshop. This was the first ever event for energy4me in Saudi Arabia, thanks to an invitation from Mr. Yaser Khojah (Saudi Aramco), Young Professional & Student Outreach, Vice-Chairperson.

Mr. Khojah was invited to be a keynote speaker at the energy4me teachers workshop earlier in 2015 at MEOS in Bahrain. Being so impressed with the workshop, he invited the energy4me team to Saudi Arabia and requested that we replicate the hands on activities that so inspired him. The activities that were conducted were done so to highlight some concepts in oil exploration. From the experiments that show how oil is detected by geologists and petroleum engineers (Sound Waves, Core Sampling, Porosity, Density, Oil Seeps) to the mechanisms of extraction (Perforated Well Casing, Getting the Oil Out), students and teachers alike learnt that there are many exciting prospects in the oil & gas industry.

Another highlight was leading local female representatives from the industry were invited to present as keynote and young professional speakers, thus showing the female students that there are many opportunities for a professional career in the country. One particular student commented, “I never knew that there were female engineers that could work in the country successfully.” That’s successful energy education!

IMG-20150427-WA0001

Students at ATS&E

20150423_084932

Energy4me presentation at ATS&E

 

Think Science Fair 2015

A three-day science exhibition showcasing ground-breaking technological innovations from some of the UAE’s brightest young scientific minds was held at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The Emirates Foundation’s “Think Science Fair”, held under the Patronage of H.H Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development, is one of the biggest events of its kind in the region attracting thousands of school and university students, parents, academics, investors and private sector representatives.

The Fair saw exhibitors showcase the scientific inventions designed and built by young UAE scientists as part of the Emirates Foundation’s “Think Science” Competition alongside a range of interactive, hands-on activities in various fields of engineering, energy, aviation and other technological industries. More than 8500 students and teachers attended form over 75 schools from the private and public sectors.

SPE exhibited the energy4me Oil & Natural Gas book, different careers within the energy sectors, and the energy4me teacher kit. In addition to this we conducted hands-on activities like Core Sampling, Getting the Oil Out, Sound Waves and how fruit can conduct electricity. The program was well received and many Heads of Science Departments and science teachers were invited to attend the next energy4me workshop in Abu Dhabi.

Students visiting the Think Science Fair try Getting the Oil Out!

Students visiting the Think Science Fair try Getting the Oil Out!

Students showing off energy4me resources at the Think Science Fair

Students showing off energy4me resources at the Think Science Fair

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re taking a short break after these events, the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, and our first ever New York workshop in Fredonia! We’ll be up and running again for the fall with even more events coming your way.

Be sure to sign up to receive invitations and visit our event calendar for more information.

Marching Right into Spring

Typically spring is not quite as busy as our fall calendar, but this month really stepped up! If you attended any of the events we hosted or were presenting at, we hope it was engaging and full of energy education resources for you.

Early in the month, as part of the Middle East Oil & Gas Show and Conference, we hosted a Teachers Workshop and Students Workshop in Bahrain. Teachers and students were introduced to the oil and gas industry with Energy4me activities, talks on careers, and visited exhibitions of technology and the sophisticated software engineers use to solve energy challenges.

blog1

Male students exploring Energy4me activities

image

Female students tour the MEOS exhibitions

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the same week, the Energy4me team were representing the program on behalf of the Society of Petroleum Engineers at two major events: the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, and the US National Science Teachers Association national conference. The Big Bang Fair was an opportunity to visit with school students about careers in engineering and energy, while building and testing a well with straw “drill pipes” as part of the Getting the Oil Out activity. It was estimated we performed the experiment over 300 times over the course of 4 days!

At NSTA in Chicago, we showcased the Oil and Natural Gas book, energy lessons, our website, and other resources available to teachers. We look forward to networking with our new contacts and hope to see you at future workshops.

20150311_093015_resized

Big Bang Fair UK invites over 75,000 students to the NEC Birmingham for all sorts of STEM experiences

 

blog2

Teachers loved these buttons at the NSTA conference 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week we’ve partnered with Alaska Resource Education in Anchorage to educate local teachers about Alaska’s energy and production. We’re excited to present oil and gas activities during this 3-day program. Stay tuned for pictures and updates on our Facebook and Twitter.

As always, keep up to date with upcoming programs on our Events Calendar. We hope to see you at one soon!