Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

The UT Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Student Chapter co-hosted the largest-ever fifth annual SPE North American Student Symposium Feb. 4-6 in Houston at the downtown Chevron offices.

The symposium brought together more than 300 students from petroleum engineering programs across the world, representing over 20 universities.

During the event, sponsored by Chevron, Schlumberger, Apache, Devon and Noble Energy, students had the opportunity to hear keynote speeches from top industry experts, attend workshops to develop professional skills and network with executives.

“It was an honor for our chapter to have the opportunity to impact students from across the United States and the globe,” said SPE Student Symposium Co-Director and UT PGE senior Taylor Lopez-Huebner. “In these tough times, networking with business leaders is critical to finding a job. I think everyone left the event feeling more optimistic and excited about joining this great industry.”

2016 spe symposium

UT PGE SPE Student Symposium committee members

The symposium, themed “The Road to US Oil and Gas Independence,” focused on the challenges associated with successful unconventionals’ production and operations in the current price market. Several keynote speakers, including UT PGE alumnus and COO of Developments and Technology at BP James Dupree, talked about the overall state of the industry and the future energy needs of the world.

Dupree shared several energy graphs throughout his presentation, including one that highlights the strong role oil and gas will play in the overall energy mix in about 20 years - 2035. BP’s Energy Outlook predicts oil and gas will continue to make up half of the energy mix with big changes occurring in the decline of coal and the growth of renewables.

Students also had the opportunity to sit in small round table sessions, where they picked the brains of the industry’s successful entrepreneurs. UT PGE alumnus and former External Advisory Committee member Kent Brock, who is president of Strand Energy, spoke about starting his company in a downturn during the late 80’s and what students should focus on when graduating in a volatile market.

“With current industry conditions, graduating engineers will have to work harder at seeking out a position in the oil and gas workforce,” said Brock. “Initially, they need to be willing to work as an engineering assistant or at any starting position in the field. If they are unable to land a job in the industry, they would probably be best served finding a job in another field while continuing to network through industry groups such as SPE.”