Strategic Plan

PGE Hildebrand naming

After receiving a $25 million gift from department alumnus Jeff Hildebrand to provide optimal outcomes for faculty and students, the department created a five-year strategic plan. The plan enables the Hildebrand Department to launch several new initiatives and build on critical existing programs.

The Hildebrand Department has identified three key priorities for its five-year strategic plan: creating a global hub for oil and gas innovation, advancing oil and gas education, and shaping the energy narrative.

Creating a Global Hub for Oil and Gas Innovation

By recruiting top talent and hosting thought leaders and professionals from around the world, the Hildebrand Department is strengthening its position as the preeminent destination for energy research. The department is a global hub for oil and gas innovation where breakthrough technologies are developed and new ideas are born. Three examples of initiatives that are fulfilling this goal are Visiting Professors, Grand Challenge Seed Grant and Graduate Scholars.

The Visiting Professors, who are faculty invited from world-renowned institutions to the Hildebrand Department, are heightening the technical discourse and transfer technology for research and education. Among other responsibilities, the Visiting Professor gives a seminar and holds office hours to maximize opportunities for interaction with UT Austin students and faculty.

Through the Hildebrand Grand Challenge Seed Grant the department continues to facilitate robust research in unconventionals, enhanced oil recovery, data analytics, nanoparticle applications, and other emerging areas. Innovators selected for this program receive funding to support high-risk investigations for which faculty often struggle to acquire funding through other traditional channels. These grants not only provide crucial assistance to faculty but also encourage a focus on unexplored areas with the potential for significant societal impact matching funding.

The Hildebrand Scholars program gives the UT PGE graduate admissions committee the funding to offer the top graduate student applicants from around the globe with early admission into the department. The goal is to attract world-class students by providing them with financial program support.  

Advancing Oil and Gas Education

The Hildebrand Department strives to have a tangible and lasting impact on the evolution of the oil and gas industry. By inventing and implementing new and exciting approaches to teaching, hands-on learning, and experiential energy education, the department graduates future leaders who are willing to take risks and change the world. Two new significant programs in this area are Alumni-in-Residence and Professors of Practice.

The Alumni-in-Residence initiative brings in experienced UT PGE alumni to mentor and teach students. Alumni from all areas of industry (law, business, consulting, technology, etc.) come to campus for one to two visits during one semester to mentor a cohort of 15 students about real-world industry problems and processes, particularly in legal and business aspects that receive less coverage in standard curriculum.

Hiring Professors of Practice to teach courses on practical topics not currently covered by faculty members, creates attractive opportunities for academic and industry veterans to share their expertise with the next generation of energy leaders.

Shaping the Energy Narrative

Amidst the noise and competing voices that can impact the public perception of the energy industry, the Hildebrand Department illustrates the value of oil and gas and serves as a champion for societal improvement. By providing expert thought leadership and by actively engaging in the public discussion, the department helps shape the conversation and encourage future generations to pursue careers in energy. One initiative the department will be launching to support this goal is the Petroleum Science and Technology Institute for high school STEM teachers.

Led by the department’s faculty and staff, the program will bring high school teachers and administrators from around the country onto the UT Austin campus every summer to learn oil and gas fundamentals. The hope is that the knowledge gained on the Forty Acres will then be applied in the teachers’ classrooms – showcasing that the oil and gas industry is a challenging, technologically advanced, and rewarding path to a great career. More exposure in the top high schools of Texas is expected to aid in the department’s undergraduate student recruitment efforts.