2017 SPE Student Paper Contests: Words From the Winners

SPE conducted the 2017 International Student Paper Contests (SPC) during the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) held in San Antonio, Texas, in October. The technical paper contests are conducted under the Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD categories, with each category having three winners. This year’s winners are:

Undergraduate Division

1st Place: Jessie Chen, University of New South Wales

2nd Place: Aman Gaurav, Indian Institute of Technology, Dhanbad

3rd Place: Marjohny Lorene Long, Universidad Central De Venezuela

Master’s Division

1st place: Tito Henao, University of Oklahoma

2nd place: Dylan Albers, Louisiana State University

3rd place: Ahinoam Pollack, Stanford University

PhD Division

1st place: Wenyue Sun, Stanford University

2nd place: Ali Abouie, University of Texas at Austin

3rd place: Mohammad Sabti, University of Wyoming

Winners of the contests for each category conducted in the 14 regions recognized by SPE competed in the international contest held during the ATCE, proving their mettle in front of the industry veterans. The TWA Student Focus Team shares some of the recent winners’ experiences in this article.

As an author of this article and a past winner of the SPC Undergraduate Division in 2015, Yogashri Pradhan finds the student winners’ summaries relatable, and agrees that SPC preparation and results continue to benefit career development, opportunities, and daily job performance. Experience participating in the contest and the benefits of winning last beyond the year-long competition and ATCE.

SPC’s Soft Skills Opportunities

While the SPC gives direct technical experience through the research conducted, many top performers also disclose how the process is a good opportunity to showcase their soft skills and provides other intangible gains. Marjohny Long from Universidad Central de Venezuela, a winner of this year’s Undergraduate category, said that winning the highly competitive SPC not only increases her confidence but also leads her to believe that it will motivate the women in the oil and gas industry to excel. Aman Gaurav from Indian Institute of Technology (ISM), Dhanbad, another winner of the Undergraduate category, shares the exhilaration in getting the recognition for the hard work behind his final presentation.

What It Takes To Succeed

Winning the regional rounds and getting to the final stage is understandably not an easy task. Regional winners are awarded by SPE with sponsored trips to the championship held at the ATCE. With intense competition from students from across the world, it is important for candidates to prepare well for the final championship in terms of content, presentation skills, technical details, and deliverability.

Wenyue Sun from Stanford University, a PhD category winner, had marked three challenges to overcome before the research could be finalized and presented at the final round:

  1. Defining the problem
  2. Managing stress
  3. Mastering the communication

Another winner in the PhD division, Mohammed Sabti from University of Wyoming, took the preparation challenge head on by doing extensive laboratory work and deep literary research on the topic, and by diversifying his knowledge of the subject.

Advice From Recent Winners

SPE is committed to support the aspiring young engineers to lead the future of the oil and gas industry, and it encourages feedback from the community to further empower its vision. Jessie Chen from University of New South Wales, a winner in the Undergraduate category, appreciates SPE for providing students a platform to showcase their technical talents and would like to see SPE highlight the importance of the international exposure through the SPE regional student chapters.

SPC winners are promising future leaders of the industry and are role models for the student community. They believe that this downturn has strengthened their beliefs for the need for a more connected professional network and technological disruptions. One should take up the challenge posed by the current downturn and continue to work hard with confidence and passion, said Gaurav. Long emphasized that one should remain even more connected now and active in the SPE networking and knowledge-sharing events both locally and globally.

In summary, SPC 2017 was a huge success with winners from different regions around the globe exhibiting energy and passion for the oil and gas industry. While sharing the wonderful experience that SPC provided, Sabti requoted the popular quote “Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom, but sharing it is the first step to humanity.”


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