SPE SA showcases at 2014 Science Alive!

By Helena Wu, SPE South Australian Section Vice Chairperson

How do you keep over 20,000 students, parents and children of all ages, dazzled and entranced in the science of oil and gas?

After months of planning, the SPE South Australian Section brought the science of oil and gas to life, at the recent 2014 Science Alive! event.  In its first foray into this annual expo, the South Australian Section partnered up with two local sections of other professional societies to share a 6m x 6m booth titled ‘Discover the Science of Oil and Gas’.

The calm before the storm – SPE-PESA-ASEG booth at 2014 Science Alive!

Held from 8-10 August at the local showgrounds, Science Alive! is a three day science and technology expo which attracted over 4,000 students on the Friday ‘Careers Day’ and an estimated 20,000 children and parents on the weekend public opening.

Through a mixture of presentations, exhibits and hands on activities, attendees were provided with an understanding of the petroleum lifecycle, starting from generation and migration, right through to production and integration into everyday society.

SPE members volunteering at the booth were kept busy dispelling common perceptions of oil and gas being found in underground caverns.  “Many were surprised by the numerous everyday products made from petroleum,” said James Griffiths, Event Coordinator and Community Liaison Chair for SPE South Australian Section.

Future petroleum engineers in training!


Prior to the event, SPE Senior Manager Communication and Energy Education, Paige McCown and SPE Southern Asia Pacific Regional Director, John Boardman, made a special donation of Energy4Me materials to the section, which were well utilised for the event.  The bookmarks proved to be most popular, while both students and parents shifted through the career brochures and quizzed each other using the IQ test questions.

The thinking caps are already out to ensure next year’s booth will be even bigger and better!

For more information about Science Alive! and Australia’s annual National Science Week, visit

Earth Science Week is 13-19 October!

Join the American Geosciences Institute as they celebrate Earth Science Week. This year’s theme is “Mapping Our World” and explores the many uses of maps in the scientific world, including the energy industry. 

Teachers can find curriculum resources, professional development opportunities, and a wealth of earth science activities correlated to the US National Science Education Standards. Students can also explore activities and earth science contests to bring together science and the arts. 

Calendar Cover

Follow the “Mapping Our World” activity calendar with a new geoscience activity every month! Download your own calendar HERE, or order the Earth Science Week Toolkit for an assortment of resources HERE!

Join the conversation on Facebook— You can also connect with us on Twitter at!

Energy4me visits London teachers

On 13 June, Energy4me hosted a group of teachers at the annual European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers conference in London. Teachers heard from a geologist and a petroleum engineer about their experiences working in the oil and gas industry, including past projects and pictures from site visits around the world. They shared how their experiences in school and university directed them to their STEM career, and how teachers can do the same for their future students. 

After a brief tour of the exhibition floor to see some amazing seismic and geoscience technologies, the local educators were immersed in an afternoon of energy activities. All of the adapted lessons for UK primary and secondary classrooms can be found HERE. 

Check out some pictures from the day: 
























If you missed this first workshop in the UK, the good news is we are coming back! The next Energy4me Teacher Workshop will be held in Aberdeen at the Offshore Europe conference on 5 September – Check out the details here! 

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SPE Dallas Section Hosts Science Teacher Barnett Shale Field Trip!

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Dallas section took local science teachers on a Barnett Shale field trip Thursday, November 18, 2011.

The tour started off at the Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute (EMGI) where Dallas section members Toni Lott, Brad Robinson, Deborah Hempel-Medina, Brian Chacka, and Patrick Crawford made a presentation covering the history of Oil and Natural Gas, Geology and the History of Barnett Shale, Drilling a well, and Hydraulic Fracturing. Teachers were engaged in the presentations and asked the presenters a lot of questions to get a better understanding of the industry and how they could relay the information to their students in the classroom.

After the overview, everyone was styling in their safety gear as they prepared to go out into the field. Each participant wore steeled toed boots, fire retardant overalls, safety glasses, ear plugs, and hard hats. The teachers were able to visit three sites where they learned firsthand about safety, advance technologies, and rules and regulations all involved in operating each site. The sites teachers visited are listed as follows.

  • Williams Company Drilling Site
  • Devon Energy Hydraulic Fracturing Site
  • Chesapeake Learning Center

After a full day of touring, teachers headed back to the Dallas Convention Center full of knowledge about the industry, their hard hat as a souvenir, and information to take back to their classrooms that included an “Oil and Natural Gas” book.

This workshop was made possible by the Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute, Society of Petroleum Engineers-Dallas Section, Halliburton Energy Services, Williams Company, Devon Energy Company, Baker-Hughes Oilfield Services and Chesapeake Energy.

Energy4me and the Society of Petroleum Engineers want to thank everyone involved.

Learn more about careers in the industry.

Energy Education Materials are a Hit!

Guest Author – Mary Spruill, Executive Director, National Energy Education Development Project (NEED)

Energy4Me materials developed in partnership with NEED are a huge hit and will be used by NEED’s trainers throughout the 2011-2012 school year.

Throughout the year, The NEED Project ( and Energy4me, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) energy education program, work together on many energy education activities including the Teacher and Student Workshop at the Offshore Technology Conference and the Teacher and Student Workshop at SPE’s ATCE.  Each summer though, NEED’s energy programs get bigger and faster paced with so many kids and teachers to reach in only a few short weeks.  This June and July were no exception with over 550 kids and teachers in Washington, D.C. to participate in the 31st Annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement.  This event recognizes school groups who commit to learning about energy and to sharing their knowledge with their peers, their teachers and their communities.  Students submit portfolios of  their energy programming in April for review at the state and national level, and the winning schools come spend 4 days in the Nation’s Capital sharing their energy work, touring our monuments and museums, and meeting with elected and appointed officials.

On a sleepy Sunday morning during the conference – the kids are up early and working on hands-on activities featuring the lessons provided by Energy4Me and some lessons that NEED and Energy4Me created together.  The students are learning about porosity and permeability, and the work needed to bring oil and natural gas to market.  They learn about transportation efficiency too and consider ways to make the vehicles of tomorrow and their own driving habits more efficient too.  The activities from Energy4Me are engaging, fun, and provide students with the background they need to really understand the oil and natural gas resources we use each day.  They leave with big smiles, new friends, and new activities to take home to their communities and share.

As soon as the Youth Awards wraps up, NEED’s training team heads out to the NEED National Energy Conference for Educators.  This year’s conference in Denver, Colorado hosted 150 educators from across the country and from Thailand and the Saipan.  For a week, the educators were like students at summer camp – learning about each other and about energy so they could return to their classrooms and teach energy with excitement and fun.  The Energy4Me activities and the presentation resources allow students and teachers alike to look more deeply into oil and natural gas development and use.  This year’s opening speaker was Don McClure, Vice President for Community Relations, Legal and Finance at EnCana, one of America’s largest natural gas producers.  Don’s extensive background in energy provided teachers with a look at how diverse the industry is, the number of jobs available for all types of students, and the challenges and opportunities that abound in developing natural gas in America.  In the days that followed, teachers learned about density, drilling technologies, properties of oil and natural gas and are prepared to take the lessons home and open up the oil and natural gas world to their students.

But that’s not all.  After Denver, the team packed up and traveled to La Quinta, California for NEED’s Facilitator Training Conference.  This conference is hosted every few years and brings together teachers, NEED’s training staff, and energy professionals from many companies and  agencies to sharpen their facilitation skills, to train on new content and new materials, and to learn how to deliver energy curriculum and training to teachers in NEED’s 600+ energy trainings each year.  This year’s group of 40 trainers rolled up their sleeves and researched and presented about America’s leading energy sources, they debated the advantages and disadvantages of the energy sources we use today, and they developed methods to share energy information with teachers and students nationwide. The It is a busy (but fun!) summer and together with SPE, NEED is reaching thousands of teachers and students each year.  As America’s teachers head back to school this month, let’s take a minute to thank them and to encourage them to teach about energy as often as possible in class!

For the 2011-2012 NEED curriculum guides or to register for a NEED workshop near you visit!


North-east schools get educated at All-Energy 2011

All-Energy hosted an Education Day at its 2011 conference Thursday 19th May to help educate local schools about a range of renewable topics.

Organised by Aberdeen Council, Aberdeenshire Council, the Energy Institute and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Aberdeen, the event is aimed at teachers and careers advisors to help raise awareness of the Renewable sector.

The event also hosted the final of the ‘Electrocity Challenge’ where five teams of four children from Meldrum Academy, Peterhead Academy, Mackie Academy, Turriff Academy and Mintlaw Academy went head to head in an “ElectroCity” Competition.   ElectroCity is an online game that has been developed specifically for teachers and students between years 7 and 9. Students build and manage their own virtual towns and cities, making important decisions and learning about energy generation and environmental management. Representatives from a range of businesses led round tables to provide valuable industry information to subject-specialist teachers and career guidance experts.

Colin Black, SPE CG Chairman, Aberdeen Section, said:  “This event focuses on sharing information with teachers and pupils so they are better informed about the ‘whole energy’ sector and careers within it.  This includes the ‘energy mix’ of hydrocarbons and renewable as well as the vital role the oil and gas sector plays now and in the future.

This is a global energy industry with many opportunities for young people – SPE Aberdeen aims to continue to provide background information, facts, guidance on career paths and information on how to enter the industry.  This event is a positive step towards this.” 

SPE Aberdeen, along with other hosts, provided tour guides for teachers and pupils to meet many of the businesses exhibiting at the show. 

SPE collaboration with Schools is part of the global SPE initiative  and SPE volunteers will be working closely with Schools during various events throughout this next term and anyone wishing to lend support should contact the Aberdeen Section, Career Guidance Committee at

Congratulations to SPE member Belinda Wu “New Faces of Engineering” 2011 honoree!

This year the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is proud to announce that Belinda Wu, an SPE member, was among the New Faces of Engineering honorees for 2011.

Each year, National Engineers Week Foundation, a coalition of engineering societies, major corporations and government agencies, asks its members to nominate colleagues 30 years old and younger for consideration as one of the New Faces of Engineering. The work of the 2011 class reflects many of the most pressing issues that engineers are endeavoring to solve on a global scale, including energy resources, infrastructure renewal, technological advancement and national security.

Belinda Wu is currently a reservoir engineer for Woodside Energy Ltd. in Perth, Australia. She is passionate about her work because it is so dynamic, facing different challenges from day to day. As a reservoir engineer in the oil and gas industry, her job involves finding and extracting hydrocarbons from reservoir rock deep below the surface of the earth. Much of the world’s energy is sourced from oil and gas, so her work involves constantly improving on technologies that will enable more hydrocarbons to be extracted in a cost effective manner. She is excited about being an engineer. She chose her career because she enjoys the thrill of solving complex problems and likes the flexibility to work on site or in the office.  Plus, working in the oil and gas industry gives her the opportunity to travel.

Wu is currently a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and serves on the young professionals coordinating committee in the Western Australian section. She is also a 2010 SPE regional award winner for outstanding young professional.

Wu holds a bachelor degree with honors in chemical engineering from the University of Adelaide. The petroleum engineering profession includes chemical, mechanical, civil, electrical and marine engineers, as well as those with degrees in petroleum engineering.

Read more about the New Faces of Engineering honorees for 2011 or learn more about engineering careers.

Join in the fun and help celebrate Engineers Week February 20-26!

Engineers Week is a global program that promotes math, science and technological literacy while encouraging students to consider a career in engineering by raising awareness of the positive contributions engineers make in today’s society. This year’s events will take place February 20-26, 2011, with additional events in March.

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is a sponsoring society of Engineers Week and hopes to attract bright young people to the exciting world of engineering. Many of SPE’s local sections use Energy4me to bring Engineers Week to their communities through activities such as:

  • Giving classroom presentations

Energy – Making Our Lives Easier (elementary)

Petroleum Engineers Make a World of Difference (intermediate/secondary)

Game – Petroleum Engineers Make a World of Difference (intermediate/secondary)

Energy’s Grand Challenges (educators/adults)

Energy Sources of the World  (educators, adults, intermediate and secondary)

  • Organizing student tours of interesting engineering achievements in the community
  • Sponsoring materials for a teacher workshop
  • Judging local Future City™ competitions
  • Offering art or essay contests for students on the importance of engineering
  • Purchasing Oil and Natural Gas books and Energy4me Kits to donate to schools
  • Holding “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” events
  • Hosting “Engineer for a Day” programs in which high school students shadow engineers for one day
  • Presenting annual engineering scholarships awards banquets
  • Teaming with other organizations in your community for an expanded outreach

Need ideas to get started? Check out the Engineers Week website for tips to jumpstart your Engineers Week celebration with special programs like “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” and National Engineers Week Future City™ Competition.

Visit to learn more about engineering careers

SPE Pittsburgh Petroleum Section Participating in Engineers Week at Carnegie Science Center

Guest Author – By Donna Marcotte, SPE Pittsburgh Petroleum Section, Board Member

Student and professional members from the Pittsburgh Petroleum Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) will present demonstrations, exhibits, and hands-on activities at the Carnegie Science Center Engineers Week event on February 18 and 19.

SPE Pittsburgh has been participating in this event for more than 10 years and is a contributing sponsor this year.

The SPE booth will feature petroleum engineering students from Pennsylvania State University (PSU), the SPE student chapter affiliate of the Pittsburgh professional section. The PSU SPE members will engage Pittsburgh area students in various activities and exhibits, developed by the students and contributed by various SPE Pittsburgh members and companies.

Booth activities will include various materials, samples, experiments and games—with lots of prizes and give-ways. Professional SPE members from the greater Pittsburgh area will also be on hand to help students with the materials and answer questions.

Companies contributing to the success of this event include: Baker Hughes, Burnett Oil, Centric Performance, EKT Interactive, EQT, EXCO Resources, Range Resources, Schlumberger, and Superior Well Services.

This year’s co-chairs for the SPE Pittsburgh booth are area residents and SPE members, Melissa Ramirez, a petroleum engineer at EXCO Resources, Inc. and Bill Thomas, a consultant with Centric Performance, LLC and member of the Marcellus Resource Group.

“This industry offers so much opportunity for anyone interested in any kind of engineering or earth science, such as geology,” explains Ramirez, also a PSU graduate. “It’s a chance to contribute daily to solving the world’s energy problems.”

“We want to get the word out to area students, so they can get the right education and take advantage of these exciting career opportunities, which are now right in their own backyards,” states Thomas.

Petroleum Industry Full Circle in Pennsylvania

Many credit Titusville, Pa., just north of Pittsburgh, as the birthplace of the modern oil and gas industry, when in 1859 Edwin Drake drilled the first commercial oil well. Oil production in Pennsylvania peaked in the early 20th century, and oil and gas production has continued over the years without a lot of fanfare. Since 2005, however, the industry has seen resurgence in the area with exploration and development of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, a vast geological formation that spans six states, including a large portion of Pennsylvania.

New technologies—developed and deployed by engineers from many different disciplines—have made extracting natural gas from shale technologically and economically feasible. Many experts believe that the Marcellus Shale will provide a huge natural gas source for Northeast U.S. markets and a vital boost to the local economy in increased tax revenue, business activity, and good-paying jobs.

About Engineers Week

The Engineers Week event at the Carnegie Science Center celebrates engineering achievements and provides an opportunity to reach out to students K-12th grade and introduce them to exciting careers in engineering.

For more information about the Carnegie Science Center Engineers Week event, visit their website at

For more information about Engineers Week, visit the National Engineers Week Foundation website at

About SPE

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is a not-for-profit professional association whose members are engaged in energy resources development and production. SPE serves 88,000-plus members in 118 countries worldwide. SPE is a key resource for technical knowledge related to the oil and gas exploration and production industry and provides services through its publications, conferences, workshops, forums, and website. Learn more about SPE and its energy education program Energy4me.

With more than 700 professional and student members throughout Western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Petroleum Section is one of the many affiliated sections and chapters of SPE International, which is headquartered in Richardson, Texas.

One of the primary roles of SPE and the local section is to raise and award scholarships for college students. This year, SPE Pittsburgh will award $15,000 in scholarships to area students. For more information about SPE Pittsburgh, visit

Why would students want to become an engineer?

Guest Author – Marva Morrow, Energy Education Consultant

As students are moving from the classroom to the real world, the biggest question is, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  Becoming an engineer might be the right career for you if you want to have a career that’s exciting, flexible, and where you can really make a difference!

Did you know that engineering is one of the few fields where you can earn a good salary after only four years of college? In the US, engineers’ starting salary can range from USD 52,048 – USD 83,121 a year depending on which type of engineering field you pursue, according to the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) Engineering salaries have been higher than average salaries for the last 40 years and according to the US Department of Labor, engineers starting salaries are among the highest of all college graduates.

Top-Paid Majors for 2009-10 Bachelor’s Degree Graduates (Source: NACE)

MajorAverage Salary Offer
Petroleum EngineerUSD 77,278
Chemical EngineerUSD 64,889
Mining and Mineral EngineerUSD 63,207
Computer ScienceUSD 60,473
Computer EngineeringUSD 60,396

Engineers are well-paid globally, though salaries will vary depending on the country. For example, typical starting salaries for petroleum engineers in the UK range from £29,000 – £36,500, according to salary data collected August 2009 (USD 36,000-USD 49,000). The Society of Petroleum Engineers has just published its 2010 salary survey that shows salaries based on years of experience in different parts of the world.

Besides earning a great salary, engineers can choose to work in the field or in the office. In certain industries, some engineers travel around the world working from one site to another. Since science and technology are constantly advancing, there will always be new problems to solve making a career as an engineer always exciting! Engineers are constantly challenged to “think outside of the box” and to explore new possibilities, making our lives better.

Science and technology are the gateway to tomorrow and someone will be engineering it. WHY NOT YOU!

Learn more about engineering careers.