Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin


For each e-newsletter, UT PGE profiles an undergraduate student – putting the spotlight on their oil and gas internship experiences or accomplishments through research.

Senior Daniel Sanchez Rivera is a star UT PGE student. He maintains a high GPA and even as an undergraduate student he is dedicated to research. Last summer Daniel participated in UT PGE’s selective summer research internship program working alongside Dr. Matt Balhoff. Below is a Q&A with Daniel that highlights his latest adventure.

1. Over winter break you had the exciting opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia. Tell us about it.

I was invited to present my research at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) as part of its Winter Enrichment Program. I was one of 40 students from all over the world chosen to spend a week in Saudi Arabia and participate in KAUST’s Undergraduate Research Competition. We had the opportunity to meet the faculty at KAUST, tour the facilities, and learn about the Kingdom’s culture and traditions. It was a truly spectacular trip.

2. What research did you present?

I worked with Dr. Balhoff on a pore-scale modeling of non-Newtonian flow project. We created a simulator for fluid flow through porous media, and developed numerical methods that dramatically increase the speed and efficiency of simulations involving yield-stress fluids. I am very proud of having worked on this project, because in addition to presenting our research in Saudi Arabia, we wrote an article that was recently published.

3. Did you have any fun adventures outside of the competition?

Yes! We visited the city of Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. We went to a camel farm, walked around the old market at Al-Balad, and had a traditional Bedouin meal. Bedouins don’t believe in silverware, so I thoroughly enjoyed making a mess of myself. However, the best part of the trip was snorkeling in the Red Sea. The water was crystal-clear and we swam around a coral reef in the middle of nowhere, it was awesome.

Rivera posing in sunglasses in front of camels.

4. What surprised you most about Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is more conservative than I thought, but also much more prosperous and modern; it lives in a constant struggle between progress and tradition. However, Saudi Arabia is a vibrant country, full of warm and wonderful people, and I am extremely thankful to KAUST and to UT PGE for giving me the opportunity go on this trip.

5. What are your plans upon graduation?

This summer, I have a research internship with Mr. (S. Javaid) Anwar’s company, Petroplex, in Midland. In the fall I will go to graduate school and get a Master’s Degree from the best department in the country – The Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.