Spring Break is for Learning

This blog post comes from two students who are members of The American Association of Drilling Engineers – Student Section. They shared their learning and growing experiences they had over Spring Break with us!

Most college students are dying for the mid-semester break from class and schoolwork that is dragging them down. The minute students are released for spring break; they are in a hurry to make their way to the beach or head home to catch up with family and friends. This year was drastically different for me. Being over the Gulf Shores scene and consuming one too many adult beverages in the previous years, I decided it was time for me to do something new. Hearing about this great opportunity through the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE) to attend a five-day drilling and production camp at the Shell Robert Training and Conference Center, I quickly made plans for my junior year spring break.

Yes, I know it does not sound as much of a great time as spending the week with your friends having fun at the beach; however, I left with no regrets. Making sure I had one of my best friends come along definitely helped, yet I made a lot of new friends. I saw a lot of familiar faces from my classes that I probably would have never gotten to know otherwise. I really enjoyed this year’s spring break at the Shell facility. Although it was never a “break” from schoolwork, the twenty-seven petroleum engineers and I took advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime. From enjoying the amazing food there to utilizing their wonderful facilities, I was in shock at the amount of information I learned over just five days. Moreover, I was surprised by the amount of fun I was having.

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Just to give you a taste of how the Shell camp worked, here is an overview of our daily schedule. Each day consisted of waking up around seven in the morning to catch breakfast before the day started at eight (this was probably my least favorite part). We would then attend an overview of the subject we were learning that day with presentations for the next couple hours from the excellent Shell facilitators. The next part of the day would include splitting up in three groups to work on the different simulators to receive hands on training of the subject we talked about. This part was by far my favorite. We got ourselves into working the high class drilling simulator, subsea simulator, and separation/production trains. And I am talking about a warehouse filled of equipment just like you would see on a floating production platform offshore. Taking a break for lunch we would rotate roles through the different activities ending our day around four thirty.

I cannot express the amount of fun I had with my peers over this great learning experience. It was awesome to learn so much in such a small amount of time from the top industry trainers. I cannot thank AADE enough for giving me this wonderful opportunity! This definitely beat going to the beach for another year.

Written by John Dwyer
Petroleum Engineering
Hometown: Houston, Texas


About three months ago the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE) at LSU was approached with the idea of creating an event to bring students out to Shell’s training Facility in Robert, La.

AADE has been involved with annual events in the past like our Wild Well Control course where we send 30 students to Houston for a three day well control certification. But, this new opportunity with Shell was huge for us. Not only were we sending nearly 30 students for a full week of training, but we got an all-inclusive stay plus hands on training at Shell’s state of the art training facility.

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Now, the process to get the camp planned and funded certainly didn’t just happen overnight. Our officers have never taken on a funding project of quite this scale, and there were times that we thought that the training camp just wasn’t going to happen. But, with dedication and hard work from our team, we were able to plan out the course and secure the funding we needed to send all 28 students.

With a game plan in place and the funding accounted for it was time to get ourselves to Robert, La. The five-day course took place over spring break from March 21-25, but we arrived the evening before in order to get a smooth start the following day.

Throughout the five days we went through lectures and hands on training in well control, drilling, sub-sea processing, and surface processing operations. After learning the different simulation software, we were able to work on live troubleshooting scenarios. This is where our members really started to shine – solving real engineering problems. We were also able to get our hands on Shell’s process training equipment which mimics a surface separation facility where oil is separated from water and gas. Students were able to take control of the processing equipment functions to direct various valves and set pressure limits in order to run a smooth separation process.

All in all this was an incredible learning opportunity for our AADE members. With the success of this first trip, we plan to make this an annual event so more students will have access to these world-class facilities that are sitting in our own back yard.

Written by Brendan Marlborough
Petroleum Engineering
Hometown: Westminster, MA
Vice President, AADE at LSU

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