Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

sparks headshot

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.





Contact Catherine Campbell at 512-471-3208