Don L. Sparks currently serves as chairman of the board of Discovery Operating, Inc., a small, independent oil company based in Midland, Texas, that he co-founded in 1973.
Sparks was born and raised in Amarillo, Texas, and received his bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1962. After graduation, Sparks served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for four years and worked in various engineering and consulting capacities for Bailey, Sipes, Williamson and Runyan; Freeport Oil Company; and Shell Oil Company. In 1980, Sparks co-founded Platt, Sparks & Associates with fellow 2015 Petroleum Engineering Distinguished Alumnus, C. Ronald Platt. Their petroleum engineering consulting firm evaluates properties, performs reservoir studies and provides expert testimony for hearings and litigations in Midland and Austin.
Sparks is a registered professional engineer and a renowned member of the petroleum engineering community. He has received numerous awards in recognition of his accomplishments, including the Independent Petroleum Association of America Leadership Award and the Hearst Lifetime Achievement Energy Award. He previously served as president of the Permian Basin Chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, director of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and regional vice president, governor and executive committee member of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He also served as a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Unconventional Resources Technology Advisory Committee. He is an active member of the National Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Association of Drilling Engineers and Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, and he is currently the vice chairman and chairman-elect of the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
A valued member of the Cockrell School of Engineering community, Sparks served on the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering External Advisory Committee and was named a Cockrell School Distinguished Engineering Graduate in 2006. He is a supporter of the Cockrell School's Friends of Alec Annual Giving Program. Platt and Sparks also generously fund the Platt, Sparks & Associates Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Petroleum Engineering, which is awarded to top students in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering.
Sparks currently resides in Midland, Texas, with his wife, Gwyndolyn. They have three sons, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Scott D. Sheffield is CEO and chairman of Pioneer Natural Resources, one of nation’s largest independent oil and gas companies.
The son of a petroleum engineer and international executive with ARCO, Scott Sheffield was raised in Tehran, Iran, and grew up in the oil business. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering in 1975, Sheffield joined Amoco Corp. as a reservoir engineer. In 1979, he became the ﬁfth employee of Parker & Parsley Petroleum Co. in Midland, Texas, where he served as the sole staff engineer. He rose to the position of CEO in 1985 and became chairman in 1991. Under Sheffield’s leadership, Parker & Parsley merged with MESA, Inc. to form Pioneer Natural Resources, which primarily operates in the Permian Basin.
Sheffield has earned numerous accolades for his leadership and contributions to the energy industry.
He received the Permian Basin Petroleum Association’s prestigious Top Hand Award in recognition of his leadership within the oil and gas industry and the Permian Basin community. Additionally, he was inducted into the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum Hall of Fame, received the Anti-Defamation League’s Henry Cohn Humanitarian Award in Dallas and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Hope Award in Midland.
Sheffield has served on many industry and education boards, including the National Petroleum Council, Santos Ltd., America’s Natural Gas Alliance and the Maguire Energy Institute Advisory Board in Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. A loyal supporter of UT Austin and the Cockrell School of Engineering, Sheffield has served on the Cockrell School’s Engineering Advisory Board and was named a Distinguished Engineering Graduate in 1996. His contributions to the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering facilitated the renewal of the drilling and production curriculum and the recruitment of several new faculty members. He also made a generous donation to the Cockrell School’s new Engineering Education and Research Center.
Sheffield currently resides in Irving, Texas, with his wife Kimberly. They have ﬁve children.
C. Ronald "Ronny" Platt is a highly respected member of the petroleum industry and one of the leading petroleum engineering experts in regulatory hearings and litigation. He has served as an expert witness in more than 150 lawsuits and 500 administrative hearings and was the governor's appointee to the State of Texas Membership on the Energy Resources Committee of the Interstate Oil Compact Commission for 12 years.
A native of Austin, Texas, Platt received his bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1962. After graduation, he worked for Chevron for more than 13 years in various petroleum engineering and management positions before opening a private consulting office in 1976. In 1980, he co-founded Platt, Sparks & Associates with fellow 2015 Petroleum Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Don Sparks. Their petroleum engineering consulting firm evaluates properties, performs reservoir studies and provides expert testimony for hearings and litigations in Midland and Austin. Platt served as chairman until the firm was acquired by FTI Consulting in October of 2014.
Platt is a dedicated supporter of the Cockrell School of Engineering and the university. He has served on the advisory board for the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering and was a founding advisory committee member for the department's Distinguished Alumni Awards. In 2009, he received the Cockrell School's Distinguished Graduate Award. Additionally, Platt is a supporter of the Cockrell School's Friends of Alec Annual Giving Program and a member of UT Austin's Littlefield Society and UT System's Chancellor's Council. Platt and Sparks generously fund the Platt, Sparks & Associates Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Petroleum Engineering, which is awarded to top students in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering.
Platt currently resides in the Austin area with his wife, Kathie. They have four children and 10 grandchildren.
Margaretha "Peggy" C.M. Rijken leads Chevron's Productivity Enhancement Team, which focuses on research, development and consulting in the areas of formation damage, geomechanical modeling and hydraulic fracturing. Rijken received the Chevron Reservoir Management Excellence Award in 2010 and 2015 and co-holds a patent in non-aqueous stimulation.
A native of the Netherlands, Rijken graduated from Delft University of Technology in 1999 with a master's degree in Mining and Petroleum Engineering. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in petroleum engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2005. During her time on the Forty Acres, Rijken was the recipient of the 2003 Texas Excellence Teaching Award for Graduate Instructors and served as Secretary of the Student Chapter of the American Society of Engineering Education. Rijken studied under professor and current petroleum and geosystems engineering Chair Jon Olson, focusing on rock fracture mechanics and fluid flow through fractured media.
Rijken completed multiple summer internships with Chevron while pursuing her Ph.D. and joined the company full time after graduation. She began her career as a geomechanics specialist, solving problems related to hydraulic fracturing, fracture containment, injection decline, sanding, subsidence, fault reactivation and perforating. She has since worked on a variety of significant and complex projects across the globe.
Rijken is a well-respected member of the technical community. She served on the SPE Well Stimulation committee, the Well Completions committee and the Reservoir Engineering committee for the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. She was chair of the Well Stimulation committee in 2009 and will be the chair of the Reservoir Engineering committee in 2016. Additionally, she has served as a technical editor for the SPE Production & Facilities Review for the past 10 years and has been a member of the SPE Talent Taskforce for the past two years.
An active member of the Cockrell School of Engineering community, Rijken was an industry representative in the Equal Opportunity in Engineering Program's Industry Superbowl for five years. She coached groups of students in their communication, teamwork and leadership skills and led her student teams to win the competition twice. Rijken has served as a mentor for the Women in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering group and a guest leader at LeaderShape, a leadership retreat for engineering students. She has also volunteered with the Petroleum Graduate Students Association, Graduate Student Assembly, Society of Women Engineers and Women in Engineering Program.
When Joe M. Parsley retired after more than 30 years in the oil and gas industry, he left behind a legacy of successful, independent Texas oil companies.
Parsley graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1951 with a degree in petroleum engineering and began his career as a reservoir engineer for Marathon Oil Corporation. In 1952, he settled in Midland, Texas, and worked for Forest Oil Corp. and then Inca Drilling Co. After teaming up with geologist Howard Parker (BS Geology 1942) on a drilling job for an independent oil company, the two formed Parker & Parsley Petroleum Co. over a handshake in 1962.
Parsley’s entrepreneurial spirit, technical skills and strategic approach ensured that Parker & Parsley capitalized on booms and survived busts. Parsley officially retired in 1985 and maintained a close friendship with Parker. The company went public in 1991. In a merger spearheaded by son-in-law and fellow 2016 Petroleum Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Scott Sheffield, Parker & Parsley joined with MESA, Inc. in 1997 to become Pioneer Natural Resources, one of the largest independent oil companies in the nation. In 2015, Parsely and Parker were both inducted into the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum Hall of Fame.
Parsley was a strong supporter of UT Austin and the Cockrell School of Engineering. He was a generous contributor to the Friends of Alec Annual Giving Program and funded the Joe M. Parsley Scholarship Fund and the Joe M. Parsley Excellence Fund. He was a member of the UT System’s Chancellor’s Council, as well as the university’s President’s Association and Littlefield Society. The Cockrell School named Parsley a Distinguished Engineering Graduate in 2003.
Parsley passed away in November 2015 in Kemah, Texas. He is survived by his wife Lucy, two daughters, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.