Technology students and professionals in the petroleum industry recently gathered for New Technologies and Current Issues in the Energy Industry, the second Halliburton Petroleum Industry Lecture Series event held at the University of Houston Hilton.
A unique feature of the program, speed networking, provided valuable opportunities for students to hone their skills and tap into the wisdom of experienced professionals. Students enjoyed face-to-face meetings and the shared life experiences of the panelists.
"I really enjoyed the talks with the professionals. I hope to see more events like this for the technology students. My questions were answered, met great people, and talked and connected with students in my same major," a Mechanical Engineering Technology student commented in a survey distributed at the event. Networking session leaders included Marie Laplante, Chief Technology Engineer at KBR, Jose Lopez, Senior Design Engineer at Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Inc., Michelle Pflueger, Petroleum Engineer for Chevron, Mark Waller, President and Managing Director of Proceanic, and Carla Fair-Wright, Owner of Optimal Consulting LLC.
A panel of speakers from diverse academic and professional backgrounds shared their insight into current industry challenges and offered advice to students who are preparing for careers in the energy industry.
Panelists included Lori McDowell, Director of Business Development for Matheson; Sara Bennett, Senior Engineer at Merit Engineering Company; Mark Glaser, Product Line Engineering Manager at Weatherford; and Mark Waller, President and Managing Director of Proceanic and member of the College of Technology advisory board.
The challenges of public perception, regulation, and human resources were among the key topics that panelists discussed.
"Drilling has become a big political issue and with it comes ramifications. It has impacted the industry, for instance Mexico, and will continue to do so in the next few years," said Mark Glaser. "There is going to be a big push for people who have experience and knowledge after others retire," he added. "If you develop a passion for what you do, you will want to become the best."
Panel members offered sound advice to students who desire to work in the industry:
- Get experience with project management, customer interfacing skills, and networking
- Work with more than one mentor
- Have the drive and persistence to make things happen
- Know the industry standards that relate to technology
- Be prepared for the unexpected. Be ready to travel.
- Learn the technology applications that drive oil and gas industry processes
When asked what advice she would have appreciated early in her career, Sara Bennett replied, "Work hard, find balance, keep learning, and be flexible. If there is an opportunity that you have never thought about, take the challenge. School gives you the framework, what you do with that is up to you. Network to learn new skills, share experience, and meet new people," she said.