Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin


UT PGE hosted the 2016 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Southwest Regional Paper Contest and PetroBowl Regional Qualifier on April 2. More than 15 undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. students from six universities in the Southwest region participated in the paper contest and over 130 students from 27 universities competed in PetroBowl.

Paper contest participants presented their innovative findings from a research project or internship to judges, who are experts in the field. The students were critiqued on the following three areas: subject matter, delivery and clarity of communication.

UT PGE swept the top spot in all three divisions (B.S., M.S. and Ph.D.) and five UT PGE students placed in the top three:

Undergraduate Division

  • 1st – Karan Jerath, The University of Texas Austin  
  • 2nd – Simon Bainbridge, Texas Tech University
  • 3rd – Taylor Lopez-Huebner, The University of Texas at Austin

Master’s Division

  • 1st – Pengpeng Qi, The University of Texas at Austin
  • 2nd – Nirbendra KC, New Mexico Tech University

Ph.D. Division

  • 1st – Morteza Elahi Naraghi, The University of Texas at Austin
  • 2nd – Yifei Xu, The University of Texas at Austin

Contest photo

Morteza Elahi Naraghi (Ph.D. winner) and Pengpeng Qi (M.S. winner)

“It is rewarding for me to present my research to respected leaders in industry and academia and then to receive such positive feedback from them,” says Naraghi, who placed first in the Ph.D. division. “I look forward to the next contest and hope to impress the judges at the international level."

The top place finisher in each category will travel to Dubai, UAE, this fall to compete in the international paper contest at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) held at the Dubai World Trade Centre. UT PGE students will go up against the impressive qualifiers from the other 13 regional divisions. This is the fifth consecutive year at least one UT PGE student won the regional competition and went to the international contest.

The University of Tulsa won the regional PetroBowl, a fast-paced quiz competition, qualifying them for Dubai to go head-to-head against schools from around the globe. The UT PGE PetroBowl team will also travel to Dubai for the international competition on the strength of the team’s second place win at the 2015 SPE ATCE. They suffered a close loss to Tulsa in the second round of the 2016 regional contest. 

Views photos from the 2016 regional paper contest