Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

Professor Emeritus Ben Caudle positively reframed the way teaching and research is conducted in the UT PGE department. That achievement, coupled with his Longhorn legacy and dedication to lifelong learning will become permanent fixtures in the department through the Ben H. Caudle Student Learning Excellence Center, which will inspire future generations of petroleum engineers.

Black and white photo of Caudle tinkering with a small machine.Dr. Caudle received his Ph.D. in petroleum engineering in 1963 from The University of Texas at Austin. For the next four decades, he led research efforts, developed new technologies, and mentored many classes of petroleum engineers. A handful of his former students attended last year’s sold out Distinguished Alumni event in which Caudle was honored as a member of the second class of UT PGE Distinguished Alumni. When Dr. Tim Taylor asked who in the room was a student of Caudle, hands shot up everywhere. Even today, the name “Ben Caudle” reverberates through the halls of the UT PGE building where it has gained legendary status among the students.

To recognize Caudle, a group of former students surprised him by announcing a $1 million campaign to renovate the department’s student learning center and name it in his honor. Gary Thomas ’71, Paul Woodul ’73, Ken Nelson ’70, Don Sparks ’62, Jeff Sparks ’83 and Wayne Greenwalt ’72 led the effort and challenged other classmates to contribute. Their challenge was answered by 58 individuals, seven companies and four foundations to put the department within striking distance of its fundraising goal.

 “One of the main tools Dr. Caudle gave me was the desire to think and get so much joy out of finding new solutions,” said Thomas, Chief Operating Officer at EOG Resources, Inc.

From that same mindset, the Ben H. Caudle Student Learning Excellence Center will provide students the tools they need to enjoy learning and solve the problems that the industry faces today.

UT PGE students currently have three small rooms available for studying – a lounge, computer room, and reading room. However, these areas are dark, crowded, and quite antiquated for a program of such national prominence. The plan is to remodel the whole student area (4,657 sq. feet) in order to create a more open and functional space that is conducive to learning and will attract top-notch students.

Renderings of two rooms in the Caudle Center.

Technology will also be a focal point of the overall design and will transform the way our 800 current undergraduate and graduate students interact with each other and the faculty. Just as Caudle led the first wave of reservoir simulations and secondary recovery strategies, the Ben H. Caudle Student Learning Excellence Center will provide students with a contemporary working space to propel them into the next technology revolution for the energy industry.