Engineering Careers

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.



The FAQ on E&P: Chatting with Middle School Students about Oil and Gas

SPE Gulf Coast section member Vikrant Lakhanpal recently visited Olle Middle School in Houston, Texas.

Fueling young minds, that’s why Vikrant Lakhanpal recently visited Olle Middle School in Houston, Texas.

Lakhanpal, a production engineer at Proline Energy Resources, spoke with the students about the whole life cycle of energy production from oil and gas – geological exploration, drilling, production, transportation and refining.

“I got a chance to interact with the students and understand their perspective about the E&P industry,” he said. “It was interesting to understand what the young minds think about petroleum engineering as a career.”

A member of the Gulf Coast section, Lakhanpal based his presentation on the future energy outlook, increasing dependency on renewable energy and how the world will still depend on oil and gas 30 years from now. Lakhanpal said that even though a lot of research is happening in the renewable sector, it is not possible to become completely fossil fuel independent.

He also emphasized that oil production is a multi-disciplinary science, and the first principles of science are applied at each stage.

“I sometimes hear students ask why a certain subject is being taught to them,” Lakhanpal said. “They think it won’t be of any use in the future. That’s exactly why I wanted to give them the technical details of how things actually work. I wanted them to realize that petroleum engineering is not something out of the world; it is based on the principles of physics used to extract oil from ground.”

Lakhanpal created a trivia quiz game. He said he was concerned that the students had not been interested in the topic he presented. Had they paid attention? Would they be able to answer the questions? Happily, he received an over-whelming response.

“They asked questions about which courses to take, whether to go for an associate degree or a master’s degree,” Lakhanpal said. “I am glad I could make a difference and motivate them to take up STEM education. I am thankful to SPE for giving me this opportunity of making an impact in someone’s life. I will definitely make myself available again for such opportunities in future.”


Space? Petroleum Engineering? Yes, There’s a Connection!

Just like with any industry, there is always an eye to the future. This also rings true regarding the future of petroleum engineering. In the March issue of the Journal of Petroleum Technology (JPT), an article titled “Exploring the Deep Earth and Deep Space: What role does the petroleum industry play?” dove deep into the subject.

The article has interesting points about the future of petroleum engineering in space including how exciting hydrocarbon discoveries of mind-bending quantities are being made in the far reaches of our solar system and even in our own Milky Way galaxy. 

It also references a new paper by scientists on NASA’s Cassini-Huygens mission, which finds that blocks of hydrocarbon ice might float upon the surface of existing lakes and seas of liquid methane, and ethane on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. 


Keeping alive the interplay between advances in understanding deep Earth, deep space, and the needs of the petroleum industry may lead us to a future shaped more by the intersection of these pursuits. 

What do you think? Would you take your career to space?

Send us a note to if you would like a copy of the article.

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Know any Inspirational Teachers?

Energy4me has worked with a variety of great partners in promoting energy education. One such partner is the National Engineers Week Foundation. They share our belief that the role teachers play in introducing secondary students to various engineering or STEM careers, is a vital one. The recognition of such teachers is equally important.  It is also one of the reasons we’re excited to make you aware of the 2013 call for nominations for the National Engineers Week Foundation DiscoverE Educator Awards! 

The awards are shining a spotlight on educators who are inspiring tomorrow’s innovation generation. By honoring the teachers who are hard at work in 6th to 12th grade classrooms around the world, the engineering profession wants to show its appreciation and respect for helping students discover engineering.  Unique to this program, engineers and engineering students (college or graduate level) are part of the nomination process. RUP18369

Nominations will be accepted NOW through 8 March 2013, and winners will be announced in April 2013. Up to three winners will each receive a trip to Washington, D.C., USA for recognition in June 2013, a $2,000 cash prize, 3M digital projector, and 3M gift pack of classroom supplies! Their engineer/student nominators will also receive a trip to Washington, D.C. 

Established in 2012, the program seeks to uncover compelling stories of exceptional teachers who have made an impact on their students’ lives. If you have someone who has inspired your career or know of an engineer whose teacher inspired them, we hope you will consider nominating them for this award. 

The nomination form and additional program details are available HERE.

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National Engineers Week Foundation’s “New Faces of Engineering- College Edition” returns for 2nd year!



Applications Now Available at Facebook.Com/CollegeEdition


WASHINGTON DC, September 18, 2012 — New Faces of Engineering – College Edition returns for its second year to recognize some of the nation’s most promising undergraduate engineering students.  Applications are now available at  The deadline for submission is Friday, November 16.  Nominees will be announced during Engineers Week, 2013 (February 17-23).  Winners will be announced on April 2 and will receive scholarships and national recognition in print and online.

In its successful inaugural year, College Edition’s 15 honorees represented a cross-section of interests, specialties and backgrounds.  One of last year’s winners, DeeAnn Turpin, is a Biological Systems Engineering major at Kansas State University and an active member of Engineers Without Borders.  DeeAnn was nominated by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and as an honoree, she was able to participate as a judge in the Future City Competition’s national finals (  DeeAnn shared her enthusiasm on Facebook: “I am very honored to have been selected for the New Faces of Engineering College Edition Award and I am proud to represent EWB, SHPE, and K-State! Go Cats!!”

The College Edition Facebook page recognizes the achievements of third, fourth and fifth year engineering students and provides a forum where students can communicate with the Foundation throughout the year.  The page also provides a source of academic and professional development opportunities available to them from National Engineers Week Foundation’s engineering association, university, and corporate partners.  Students can meet with their engineering peers in every field and learn about other events, licensure exams, internships, jobs, competitions, engineering associations and more.   

The College Edition application requires the student’s photo (jpg format), list of accomplishments, and four short essays.  To be eligible, students must be enrolled in a Bachelor of Science Engineering program at an ABET Accredited college or university or from an equivalent international educational institution and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.  Students must also be affiliated with one of the following engineering associations: 

  • SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers)
  • AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers)
  • AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)
  • ASABE (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers)
  • ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers)
  • ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers)
  • ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)
  • CIE-USA (Chinese Institute of Engineers)
  • IEEE-USA (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
  • NACME (National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering)
  • NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers)
  • NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers)
  • NOGLSTP (National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals)
  • SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers)
  • SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers)

Students that do not currently belong to an above society may still join a participating organization. For more information, go to

New Faces of Engineering – College Edition is inspired by the National Engineers Week Foundation’s highly successful New Faces of Engineering program which, for ten years, has honored the nation’s top young professionals.  Funding for New Faces of Engineering – College Edition is provided by NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying). 

“NCEES is excited to again sponsor New Faces of Engineering – College Edition and build on its success of recognizing outstanding engineering students and raising awareness of the importance of professional engineering in our everyday lives,” says NCEES Immediate Past President and 2013 EWeek Chair Dale Jans, P.E.  “By providing a dynamic online presence, the program is designed to help all engineering students connect and find the resources they need for their future careers.” 

About National Engineers Week Foundation

The National Engineers Week Foundation works year-round to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession critical to public health, safety, and welfare.  The Foundation supports engineering outreach, education, and celebration through a network of thousands of volunteers in its partner coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies. Together we meet a vital need: introducing students, parents, and educators to engineering, engaging them in hands-on engineering experiences, and making science and math relevant. The Foundation and coalition are actively putting the E in STEM.

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Visit a Petroleum Museum… They Tell Fascinating Stories!

Want to enhance your knowledge of the petroleum industry? How about a petroleum museum! At the museums, watch history come to life with interactive displays, informative guides, and live demonstrations. Some even have specific, focused, elementary, middle and high school educational tours. From Calgary to France to West Virginia, petroleum museums tell fascinating stories of oil discovery, production, to showcasing some of the modern uses of oil you might not know about.

For instance, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Energy exhibit, the Exploration gallery features the latest techniques used to search for hydrocarbons, from magnetometers and gravimeters to seismic vibrator trucks. In the Geology in the Field interactive, gaze across a barren, mountainous landscape, and watch as holographic illusions of two petroleum geologists materialize and explain what they are doing in the middle of nowhere. A massive Vibroseis truck interrupts them, sending its booming vibrations deep into the rock below.

At the Indonesian Oil and Gas Museum, the exhibits display how important the role of oil and gas is as the source of energy, for fuel, lubricants and petrochemical products. There’s even an oil tree that symbolically displays at its branches various products resulting from the refinery processes of oil and gas.

Check out our full petroleum museum listings HERE. Have plans to attend one on the list? Share your experience with us by Joining the conversation on Facebook— You can also connect with us on Twitter at!  

Energy Education Showcase at the World’s Foremost Offshore Resources Event

As a participating organization, The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is working with the Offshore Technology Conference (which runs 30 April through May 3) for an energy education initiative.

Organized and ran by the Energy Education Institute and the US National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, OTC will host 100 Houston-area classroom teachers (grades 4-12) for a free, one-day energy education workshop. The educators will receive comprehensive, objective information about the scientific concepts of energy and its importance while discovering the world of oil and natural gas exploration and production.

There will also be a High School Student STEM event whose focus is to educate the next generation of aspiring engineers, scientists and managers about the oil and gas industry. Approximately 200 high school students will see firsthand the exciting opportunities the oil industry offers! The day-long program will include a scavenger hunt of the technology exhibits, hands-on energy lessons provided by the NEED Project and the opportunity to meet industry professionals and ask questions about careers in the oil and gas industry.

 Interested in getting involved? Know students where you live who could benefit from energy education? Let us help. Send us a note to about how you’d like to get involved. Review some of the free materials that we offer to support you here:

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Why Petroleum Engineering? Better Job Opportunities!

Looking to cash in on some of the opportunities the shale gas industry now affords, students are taking up a major in petroleum engineering. A petroleum engineer “understands the drilling aspects, he understands the reservoir management. Whereas the oil and gas industry used to rely on a patchwork of skills from civil, chemical and mechanical engineers, companies are increasingly in search of trained petroleum engineers who specialize in oil field operations,” said Steve Benson, chairman of the North Dakota University Department of Petroleum Engineering. “They’re just equipped well.”

When students in the major are not available, oil and gas firms will look to recruit from other engineering disciplines, but petroleum engineering is quickly becoming a requirement in the field.

“There are a few exceptions where other engineering disciplines such as chemical, mechanical or civil might be considered with training, but by and large, a petroleum engineering degree is preferred,” said Steve Woodhead, manager of university affairs for Chevron Corp.

To meet industry needs, many of the nation’s existing engineering programs are expanding their course offerings, faculty numbers and class sizes. After graduating, petroleum engineering students are well-positioned to earn a starting salary between $80,000 and $100,000, depending on the company. According to Pay Scale on 6 April 2012, the national salary data information tells us Petroleum Engineers total pay range is from 61,559- $199,961. Currently, 92% of petroleum engineers are males and females make up 8%.

What do you think about this assessment? Let’s discuss on Facebook or on Twitter at

Sources: Pamela King, E&E reporter

Published: Monday, March 19, 2012

Pay Scale Research; Petroleum Engineer Salary, Updated: 6 Apr 2012

NEEDED: One million STEM graduates!

Here, a teacher learns hands-on activities she can take back to her classroom. Studies have shown that classroom approaches that engage students as active participants improve retention of information and critical thinking skills and can significantly increase STEM-major interest and perseverance.

In a recently released report from the President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology (PCAST) it was concluded that one million additional STEM graduates are needed over the next decade to fill the growing number of jobs requiring STEM skills. The report recommended changes in undergraduate STEM education that will retain more STEM students in the first two years of their college studies. The report finds that:

  • Fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field complete a STEM degree;
  • Increasing the retention rate from 40 to 50 percent would provide three-quarters of the million STEM graduates needed; and
  • Colleges and universities can significantly increase their retention rates by improving faculty instructional practices, helping students rapidly improve their entry level math skills, and creating multiple pathways to excel in STEM, particularly for underrepresented groups.

In its latest report, Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) concludes that retaining more STEM majors is the lowest-cost, fastest policy option to provide the STEM professionals that the Nation needs for economic and societal well-being. Studies have shown that classroom approaches that engage students as active participants improve retention of information and critical thinking skills and can significantly increase STEM-major interest and perseverance, compared with conventional lecturing. In one study, for example, students in traditional lecture courses were twice as likely to leave engineering and three times as likely to drop out of college entirely compared with students taught using active learning techniques. In another study, students in a physics class that used active learning methods learned twice as much as those taught in a traditional class, as measured by test results.  

Listed below are some ways you can volunteer.

  • Donate education materials to schools
  • Start a classroom presentation program
  • Mentor a school science club
  • Take part in Engineers Week and Earth Science Week activities
  • Hold an energy-themed art contest
  • Give classroom presentations
  • Judge science fairs
  • Help Boy and Girl Scouts earn Energy or Engineering Merit Badges
  • Educate friends, family and your community about energy

Get involved!