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.”


Take the Wheel… Run an Energy4me Program!

Together, we can make a difference by sharing the facts about energy with the public and putting a face on the industry.

Energy is a critical issue worldwide, and we believe face-to-face interaction is one of the many effective ways to spread the word about energy conservation, the future of the oil and gas industry and its impact on the planet! SPE members, teachers, young professionals and even university students all bring a facet to energy education that can lead the way.

Doing your part for energy education is easy, and there are plenty of ways for you to get involved! Based on your interests, you may consider the following activities:

  • Classroom presentations
  • Show and tell
  • Donate Energy4me materials to schools
  • Supporting teacher workshops
  • Scholarships/grants

Read more HERE about how to get started, setting a plan of action and how to utilize Energy4me materials during the program!

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

Environmental Scientist, SPE Member, Teaches Students about Energy

Recently, SPE member Jeffrey Cline, visited Maede Creek High School in Katy, TX., to talk to two classes of 25-plus students about energy and its effects. Cline regularly volunteers his time and resources to educate students and young professionals about the industry he has worked in for more than 35 years.

Cline made his energy education presentation to the school’s environmental science class; “Environmental Effects of Energy,” a course that offers college credit once the students pass the exam.

The subject matter was “Impacts of Energy.” Cline chose this topic in order to make comparisons of impacts (positive/negative) of all energy sources/uses. Additionally, Cline discussed sociological elements such as taking a balanced, “apples to apples” view of various energy sources and discussing the positive and negative impacts of each. To cover test questions (six week exam is on pollution – air and water), the students were shown oil spills and various cleanup methods and technologies. The class then discussed dispersants in detail as a result of student questions.

In addition to SPE notebooks, pens and education materials, Bobble Head SPE stickers were given as rewards to those that responded by asking or answering questions – and there were many!

“The students were quite enthusiastic and a number of them even stopped briefly to talk to me after the presentation,” said Cline. “I was thoroughly impressed with their interest, involvement and enthusiasm. I can’t wait to do it again.”

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:

Want to discuss further? Join us on Facebook- You can also connect with us on Twitter at

Hands-On or Hands-Off… Which is More Beneficial to Students?

There are different ways to teach. Each student learns differently and there is no right or wrong way. The goal is that the subject matter resonates and that the student understands. That being said, we took a short survey here at Energy4me posing the question “Hands-On or Hands-Off” regarding the best way information resonates and/or assists one in understanding the material.

The results are in… 100% of the participants selected “Hands-On.” Though it is not a total representation of students across the world, it’s a general consensus amongst people in our network that hands-on works the best. That speaks to us. That speaks to teachers.

As we venture deeper into the 21st century, where the availability of information is so readily available thanks to the technical age we live in with Google and other search engines/aids on our smartphones and tablets, it’s important now more than ever to reinforce visuals and things we can hold in our hands as valuable, teachable tools. Maybe instead of just showing that 3D map of where the state capitals and countries are, how about we bring out a globe and let the students twirl it and place stickers and pins on those places; or even a visit to their state capital where they can sit-in on a court proceeding. Instead of only watching a video about animal tendencies and features, that we take them to a zoo where they can see and hold animals and vegetation in their hands?

Instead of only looking at pictures of technology exhibits and new innovations, how about we take them to places like the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) where they can touch, stand on and get expert insight from the person that built the technology… wouldn’t that help?

Fortunately, we have teachers like you that continue to realize hands-on is not just a chance to get out of the classroom and from behind a book: it’s a chance for students to write their own… with hands-on knowledge.

Energy4me employs the 5E instructional model.This model is a teaching sequence that can be used for entire programs, specific units and individual lessons. Energy4me lesson plans support the 5E constructivist learning cycle, helping students build their own understanding from experiences and new ideas.

Want to discuss and leave your thoughts? Join us and other teachers on Facebook and leave your comments –

You can also connect with us at

SPE’s Ghana Section is committed to energy education!

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Ghana section, is growing and gaining momentum! With a growing membership and an enthusiastic board, they have made the commitment to make a difference in the oil and gas industry while doing something good for their community. The Ghana section will be supporting 10 schools in Accra and 10 schools in Takoradi with energy education materials including energy4me books and kits as well as classroom presentations.

SPE encourages all its members and sections to educate the public about energy and put a face on the industry. Energy is a critical issue worldwide, and SPE believes face-to-face contact is the ideal way to spread the word about energy conservation, the future of the oil and gas industry, and its impact on the planet.

The energy4me books and kits donated to the Ghana section were sponsored by energy4me, SPE’s energy education outreach program, and Colin Black, SPE EIC member and Director, Optima Solutions UK Ltd.

SPE and energy4me would like to thank the Ghana section in their energy outreach initiatives. Together, we can make a difference by sharing the facts about energy with the public and putting a face on the industry.

Keep up the good work!

Learn more about energy and energy careers.

The picture to the right shows the SPE Ghana board members and British High Commissioner, Mr. Peter Jones.

First Annual “New Faces of Engineering College Edition” Winners!

The National Engineers Week Foundation and partners honor top college engineering students by recognizing the most promising engineering professionals of tomorrow with their first annual New Faces of Engineering College Edition program.

Fifteen engineering students in their third, fourth, or fifth year were selected. Winners are recognized for academic excellence, leadership within student organizations, outstanding communication skills, non-engineering related community service and involvement in the engineering industry.

Moustafa Ezzat, a 5th year student from the British University in Egypt and student member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), was among the winners.

Since 2003, National Engineers Week Foundation has honored young engineering professionals with its New Faces of Engineering award.  This is the first year the popular initiative has expanded to recognize the best and brightest college engineering students.

Congratulations Moustafa Ezzat!

New Faces of Engineering College Edition is live on Facebook (  The page provides a source of academic and professional development opportunities available to students 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, internships, jobs, competitions, engineering associations and more.

Funding for New Faces of Engineering College Edition is provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). For more information, visit

Learn more about engineering careers.

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

SPE Delta Section Visits Fontainbleau High School

Guest Author – Courtney Sample, SPE Delta Section

On March 25th, four SPE young professional members and five LSU students visited Fontainbleau High School in Mandeville to discuss the oil and gas industry to four 10th/11th grade classes in AP Chemistry and Physics. Each class session began with introductions and either an explanation of job titles or class levels at LSU. The Fontainbleau students received advice about working in the petroleum industry and preparation for college.

After introductions, the presenters showed a few power point slides from the Energy4Me prepared presentation. During the presentation the students had numerous questions about the industry and college life. One major topic of discussion was degree selection and college advice. Sofia Miranda, a freshman at LSU talked about the importance of time management in college versus high school and how important studying is in college. Wendy Redpath, a junior at LSU talked about her personal experience of switching from Civil to Petroleum Engineering and the course overlap between the two disciplines. Courtney Sample, a reservoir engineer for Chevron discussed the importance of internships for students to confirm their college major choice.  Elizabeth Mann, a facilities engineer for Shell talked about recruiting and what companies are looking for in students. Everyone was very engaged during the discussions and eager to ask questions about engineering.

Another major topic of discussion was the many opportunities in the oil and gas industry. Dakoriye Charles, a freshman at LSU discussed his traveling experiences because of the petroleum industry. Jack Carona, a petroleum engineer for Griffin and Griffin talked about how his non routine job changes daily.  Richard Zaunbrecher, a deepwater exploration team lead with Shell also talked about his experience as a supervisor in the petroleum industry. Partnering with LSU made this event a great success! The college and workforce perspectives helped the students understand what it means to be a petroleum engineer. Other participants included Teddy Yao a freshman at LSU and James Stiernberg a graduate student from LSU.

Learn more about becoming a petroleum engineer.

SPE Delta Section Visits Thomas Jefferson High School

Guest Author – Courtney Sample, SPE Delta Section

On February 11th, three SPE members visited Thomas Jefferson High School to discuss oil and gas to two 12th grade classes, AP Environmental Science and AP Chemistry. We began by introducing ourselves explaining our individual paths leading to a career in the Petroleum Industry. Pete Lensing, who works for BOPCO, as a production engineer emphasized the benefits of working in the field as an intern and as a new hire.

Next, we presented a few power point slides from the energy4me prepared presentation. Before the presentation students were connvinced renewables would be the only source of energy in 2030. After an explanation and the World Energy Demand slide, they realized oil and coal would still be a vital source of energy in the future. Courtney Sample, a reservoir engineer for Chevron explained how Chevron and other petroleum companies have devoted whole Buisness Units to renewable energy and energy efficiency. At Chevron it is called Chevron Technology Ventures.

Sean OBoyle, a consultant for ExPert E&P talked about the opportunities in the petroleum field. He informed students about the different options for a Petroleum Engineer. He explained how he has had the opportunity to travel around the world and also live in the state of Louisiana.

The students had lots of questions about the industry and about education. One really good question was about school and life balance. We encouraged the students to pursue petroleum engineering so that the energy industry has more creative minds in the future to find innovative cost effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Learn more about a career in petroleum engineering or energy sources