Data Analytics Insights From 2018 SPE North America Student Symposium

More than 400 students from 20 SPE student chapters across the US, Mexico, and Canada gathered at the annual SPE North America Student Symposium (NASS) held at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge during 21–24 February. 

This year’s symposium focused on data analytics and called upon a range of industry professionals to come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of today’s digital age. More than 25 SPE student members from 15 universities organized various events that honed in on the digital aspect of the oil and gas industry.  Co-directors for the event included Abdul Homran (LSU), Adam Larson (Penn State University), and Bryan McDowell (Colorado School of Mines). 

Discussions at the symposium addressed the new wave of technology that’s emerging in oil and gas—Big Data. The event’s highlight—the panel discussion—dug deep into Big Data’s application in the oil and gas industry. Panelists included top professionals from Range Resources, Occidental Petroleum, Halliburton, and Schlumberger. 


The panel’s key takeaway: Operators and service companies are interfacing to reveal disruptive tools and mechanisms that cut operational costs to drive efficiencies.  Before arriving at this point, the industry is currently working together to get their arms around what “Big Data” actually means.  Through technical and nontechnical workshops, participating students had a bird’s-eye view on this challenge that the industry is facing.

In this year’s symposium the student-ran planning committee also organized field trips along with the yearly career fair.  Field trip activities included a visit to Shell’s Robert Training & Conference Center, exposing students to offshore activities and training simulations. 


The symposium offered students an opportunity to sit-in on a wide cross-section of talks delivered by industry professionals.  “I often hear about Big Data every now and then, either in class or in industry-related news, but NASS gave me a clearer definition on the advantages and shortcomings of Big Data.  The comprehensive series of talks enabled professionals and students to have a dialogue on the topic and how we can work together to better understand new and upcoming technologies, especially heading toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Charles Nyempah, a petroleum and natural gas engineering student at Penn State University.

SPE members such as Nyempah are already looking forward to 2019 NASS.  These experiences empower students to enter the workforce at an exciting time in our dynamic industry. As a flashback, last year NASS focused on the history and evolution of oil and gas, and we hope that next year’s symposium will continue to provide a fresh outlook on the industry ahead.