Volume: 2 | Issue: 6

Personal Perspectives of Two Distinguished Lecturers: Experience Opportunity and Adventure

The time for the annual selection of SPE’s Distinguished Lecturers (DLs) is coming soon. If you are unfamiliar with the DL program or have not explored it in depth, consider learning more as the selection process for the 2015–2016 lecture season begins on 1 February 2014. Becoming a DL opens a world of experience and opportunity to you while you provide valuable expertise and knowledge to SPE members.

The SPE Distinguished Lecturer Committee selects a group of 28 to 35 individuals to be DLs each year. The DLs are selected from a pool of 80 to 100 nominees.

The DLs share the qualities of being recognized experts in their fields, being capable and articulate speakers, and having a willingness to devote their time to the travel required for making between 15 and 45 presentations. Over the course of their 1-year appointment, the DLs are tasked with sharing their expertise with SPE members worldwide by making presentations at local section meetings.

How Does the DL Program Work?

The nomination process begins on 1 February and continues through 15 March for the lecture program that starts in September of the following year. Nominees have until 31 March to submit the required materials.

The nomination package requirements are a nomination form, two letters of recommendation, an abstract of the proposed presentation, and a preliminary PowerPoint file for a 30-minute talk.

The DL Selection Committee vets all nominations and in May will select a pool of potential lecturers. The potential lecturers are invited to present to the committee at one of two meetings held in September and/or early October. Based on the quality of the presentations, invitations to serve as a DL will be sent to 28 to 35 individuals.

Next, the names of the newly selected DLs and their topics are published in the JPT and Oil and Gas Facilities and sent to the local sections, which create a list of their preferred presentations. The SPE staff schedules lecture tours that meet the sections’ requests and the DLs’ preferences. The goal is to minimize the travel burden on the DL while providing the preferred presentations to the sections.

Then, the SPE staff generates the DL itineraries and makes the travel arrangements (business class for flights exceeding 8 hours). Local sections assist with the selection of hotels and travel to and from airports. Some sections arrange for sightseeing if travel schedules permit, but more often than not, the DL’s travel schedule is rather tight. All travel expenses are paid by SPE and the SPE Foundation unless a DL’s employer volunteers to cover some or all of them.

Why Become a Distinguished Lecturer?

The number one reason to consider becoming a DL: It is a fantastically rewarding experience. Being a DL is a confirmation that you are a leader in your field of technology and provides opportunities to meet SPE members all over the world who are interested in knowing more about your topic.

SPE members attend the presentations to learn from the best topical expertise that SPE has to offer. In return, there is no better opportunity to learn from and to network with your peers. DLs have the opportunity to interact with other cultures and to enjoy the pleasures (and challenges) of international travel.

The number two reason: It is great fun. It is one great experience you will carry with you for the balance of your career. 

Great Experiences Long Remembered

•  In Lagos, the local section took Ken out to dinner. As he went down an ally to an unmarked door, he got a bit nervous. Upon opening the door, he found himself in a Tex-Mex restaurant filled with expats. The owner was a former petroleum engineering student of his from the University of Houston.

•  Ted traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and Sakhalin Island (Russia), logging almost 22,000 air miles during 2 weeks of travel. More than 450 SPE members attended his talks.

•  In Shekou, China, Ken did not expect to know anyone. When he arrived at the section’s office, two of his former employees were there to greet him.

•  At a remote section in the United States, about 25% of the membership showed up for Ted’s presentation. All seven of them had a great time discussing water treatment and the general problems of facility operations, making it one of his most enjoyable lectures.

•  In Beijing, a former Shell colleague and his wife took Ken to see the public gardens and to a restaurant that specialized in Peking duck.

•  After Ted’s DL tours, he was assigned to a project in Bahrain. The local SPE members discovered he was a DL and in 2 days organized the largest section meeting in their history.

•  In Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, after enjoying Ken’s talk, the attendees retired en masse to the venue’s bar and proceeded to discuss the future of the Canadian oil industry and informed him of the implications of the Meech Lake Accords (related to the sovereignty of Quebec) for the future of Canada.

These are just a few of our experiences. As a DL, you will learn to expect the unexpected and to be prepared to learn how engineers in other parts of the world are handling their problems. You are exposed to different cultures and come to appreciate that we all work together at SPE to deliver energy to a hungry world. There is little to rival the experience of being a DL.

How to Nominate

Consider someone you know who can give an interesting and informative presentation on a topic you believe will be of interest to a cross section of SPE members. Confirm that the person is willing to be a DL, travel, and share his or her knowledge.

Completing and submitting the nomination form is a piece of cake. You cannot nominate yourself, but you may ask others to nominate you. For more information, visit

There is a great demand for DLs. Sections typically host three DL presentations a year. Some sections only meet when a DL is visiting.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to fill the demand for lecturers with expertise in projects, facilities, and construction (PFC). You can help by providing SPE with more nominations for PFC Distinguished Lectureships. The SPE Board supports us in recognizing this need, but those of us in the specialty have to do our part.

Ken Arnold is a senior technical adviser at WorleyParsons and was a Distinguished Lecturer in 1994–1995 and 2002–2003. His presentations were titled “Process Safety Management—Cost Effectiveness and Awareness” and “The Future of Facilities and Construction Engineering: What SPE Can Do for You,” respectively. He is the coauthor of two textbooks and has written more than 50 technical articles on project management and facilities design. He holds a BS in civil engineering from Cornell University and an MS in civil engineering from Tulane University. He can be reached at


Ted Frankiewicz is an engineering adviser at SPEC Services and was a 2009–2010 Distinguished Lecturer. His presentation was titled, “Diagnosing and Resolving Chemical and Mechanical Issues in Produced Water Treatment Systems.” He has more than 30 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry, working in operations, equipment design/manufacturing, and process engineering. He holds a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago, holds 15 patents, and has written more than 25 professional publications. He can be reached at



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