In Memoriam: Ben H. Caudle

Ben H. Caudle, SPE, professor emeritus and former chair of The University of Texas at Austin’s Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering and a former member of the SPE Board of Directors, died 6 February at the age of 95.

A 1943 graduate of the University of Texas with a BS degree in chemistry, Caudle received a PhD in petroleum engineering in 1963, also from the University of Texas. He was a research engineer with Atlantic Refining Co. from 1947 to 1961 and served as a research engineer at the Texas Petroleum Research Committee from 1961 to 1963. He became a member of the faculty at UT Austin in 1963 and served as chair of the department of petroleum engineering from 1963 to 1967.

Over the next 4 decades, Caudle led pioneering research at the department, developing numerous new secondary recovery technologies, including water-alternating-gas injection. He studied oil recovery techniques using sand models and, as computers became available, he adapted this work to create the streamline model for predicting reservoir performance under numerous drive mechanisms and secondary recovery techniques. He steered the department through numerous waves of faculty additions and mentored many of the current distinguished faculty members. Caudle taught and mentored multiple generations of UT engineering alumni, in some cases teaching the sons, daughters, and even grandchildren of  his earliest students. He retired from the engineering department  and was granted professor emeritus status in 1997, and taught classes until 2009. The Ben H. Caudle Student Learning Excellence Center was dedicated in 2012 to provide students the tools they need to enjoy learning and solve the problems that the industry faces today.

Caudle published more than 25 articles on oil recovery, wrote an article on oil and gas production for Encyclopedia Britannica, and was the author of two textbooks on fluid flow and secondary recovery.

An active SPE member, Caudle served on the SPE Board of Directors from 1965 to 1968. He received the SPE Distinguished Service Award in 1963, SPE Distinguished Membership in 1983, and the SPE Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty in 1986. He was also the 1978 recipient of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers’ Mineral Industry Education Award. Caudle was inducted into the US National Academy of Engineering in 1988.



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