[Student and professional volunteers who participated in the Energy4me event.]
The SPE Permian Basin Section started its September with the successful kickoff of its Energy4Me energy education initiative in Odessa, Texas. By collaborating with the University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) STEM Academy, a charter school, and Communities in Schools Permian Basin (CISPB), an organization which helps students stay in school, SPE members of the Permian Basin Section helped educate K-12 grade students about the importance of energy and practical STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) applications in the energy industry.
Coordinated and led by Yogashri Pradhan, reservoir engineer for Endeavor Energy Resources, the kickoff event was attended by elementary to high school students of the UTPB STEM Academy and CISPB. Educating the students of the Permian Basin community on STEM subjects would foster their interest in them and inspire the students to pursue STEM careers. The Energy4Me event comprised lesson plans for the students about the oil and gas industry and included activities representing simple concepts in petroleum engineering.
Despite their busy work schedules, 65 oil and gas professionals from 20 companies with operations in the Permian Basin provided the students with valuable energy-related knowledge. They shared their experiences and passion for the energy industry while potentially inspiring students to follow similar STEM-related career paths.
The efforts of the volunteer group was complemented by 20 undergraduate and graduate student members of the Texas Tech University Student Chapter of SPE. Heading out of Lubbock, Texas, by 5 am, the students helped the volunteers get set up to teach their first sets of elementary students by 9 am at the UTPB MESA building. They paired up with the professionals and helped lead lectures through both the morning and afternoon sessions. Texas Tech University petroleum engineering student Katie Ramirez said, “Participating in Energy4Me was a very humbling and remarkable experience. From introducing 7th graders to what oil and gas is about to creating a visualization of a reservoir, I saw just how bright the future of our industry will be in the hands of these students. This initiative has provided them with a valuable learning experience, and I know it certainly has for me too.”
The Energy4Me Initiative provided lesson plans that volunteers could immediately utilize and apply in interactive activities and classroom discussions. Discussion portions consisted of lectures on the energy sources of the world, energy’s grand challenges, and petroleum engineering careers. These discussions were followed by hands-on learning activities such as oil reserve modeling, core sampling, and oil extraction. By 2 pm, high school students from the afternoon session finished their activities and attended a career panel led by young professionals from the industry.
Most school students are unable to decide what they would like to major in until their junior or senior years of high school. They often lack the knowledge about the different industries that they may be able to work in. This event provided an opportunity for the students to learn about the oil and gas industry and the available career opportunities.
The initiative not only provided a beneficial learning experience for the participating school students, but it also helped recruit industry professionals who are willing to continuously mentor the students through the established mentorship programs at their institutions.