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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Top 5 Tips from Recruiters at LSU’s Career Expo

College of Engineering Communications Assistant M.B. Humphrey set out to the Career Expo last week with one goal: To find out what the employers want to see when meeting students. Here’s a bit of what the recruiters suggested:

1. Be excited!
Cramming an interview into an already packed day, complete with hikes across campus and even a quiz or two, is exhausting. Employers understand that, which is exactly why a bit of enthusiasm when you meet them goes a long way. That illustration of tenacity is just what a company seeks in an employee.

2. Put in some effort.
Companies want to employ people they know are going to get the job done. Show the effort of your professionalism by wearing business casual office attire and having your resume printed and properly formatted for your field. According to Alyse Aldridge, an LSU alumnus who currently works at Exxon Mobil, seeing students that are, “excited and put effort into displaying what they have to offer,” stand out.

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3. Do your homework.
Knowing what the company does is as simple as a quick Internet search. Take some time to know the company’s values, missions, goals and other philanthropic activities to make a positive impact on a company recruiter. According to Sam Migliore, director of product management at Bentley Systems, Inc., LSU students have been “some of the best prepared” because of their knowledge and the ability to communicate that information effectively.

4. Be prepared to show the company what you have to offer.
This is the perfect time to toot your own horn, and you’ll often have to do it quickly. In a career expo setting, you aren’t afforded the same courtesies you are in a pre-scheduled interview. Be cordial, but also be aware that your time is limited in what you can demonstrate about yourself and your skills.

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5. Know exactly what you want to do.
Shannon McGarry, director of recruiting at Omnitracs, LLC, explained that this is the most important step in a recruiter being able to properly place you within their company. She said that while a recruiter can help you figure it out, “a student knowing exactly what they want to do looks great and frees up time to talk more about the specific position.” By doing a bit of research ahead of time, you can determine what role you would best fill in the company and actively pursue that position upon meeting a recruiter.

Studying Engineering Abroad

LSU’s Encounter Engineering in Europe (E3) is a summer study abroad program in Germany, giving students hands-on learning experiences and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. This year’s 2015 cohort has created a blog to share their stories. Here are just a couple below, but you can check out their full blog at http://geauxe3.weebly.com/!

The beautiful city of Heidelberg

The beautiful city of Heidelberg

Welcome to BASF! posted June 26, 2015

Today started off earlier than normal. We had to be ready and out the door by 8:10. BASF had sent a bus to take us up from our hostel to their plant in Ludwigshafen, about 30 minutes away. The bus that was sent was a gift of its own- we didn’t have to walk a mile to the train station or take a public bus. But best of all, the bus had AIR CONDTIONING! For some reason, it seems Germans just don’t believe in air conditioning, I guess it’s not efficient enough for them. Anyway, we arrived at the plant’s front gate and Dr. Jessel, the head of recruiting, met us. From the front gate, I could see what I was really getting myself into. The shear size of some of the equipment was a little hard to believe. With our jaws still gaped open, Dr. Jessel welcomed us and handed out our guest passes for the plant. She began with saying that “last night was the fun, but today is the work.” I blew it off, thinking that we wouldn’t really do anything that hard. Man, was I wrong.

We were brought into a conference room where we were given water, juice, and cookies. We took our seats, and Dr. Jessel began her presentation on BASF and the company’s history. She gave us some of the statistics on the plant and mentioned that it is the world’s largest chemical plant run by a single company. She also discussed the products BASF manufactures such as polyethylenes, plastics, coatings, and paints. After her presentation, a process engineer named Stefan Höser, gave us a presentation on Advanced Process Control. He talked about the role he plays in maintaining constant and efficient production while avoiding problems like overheating or extreme pressures. We were then led to another building where we met Dr. Nübling, the butandiol plant manager.

He gave us a presentation on the plant then we got suited up in safety glasses and hard hats to tour the plant. He guided us up to the top of some of the platforms around 5 stories high, and we had to weave our way through the metal jungle of pipes, gages, and valves. We got some wonderful views of the plant, which the size of a small city. We later went to eat in one of the 8 canteens/restaurants on site and found out that the plant also has apartments, railways, roads, showers, laundromats, and 15,000 bikes. After we ate, we finished the day with a bus tour of the rest of the site and the BASF museum. It was an incredible experience to see such a large scale production in full force and get to know the people involved in the process. If the next three years go as planned, I can only wish to be a part of something as spectacular.

 – Darrin Paul, Chemical Engineering Sophomore

Sunny Side Up: posted June 30, 2015

My stomach rumbled as I wandered into the dining room for breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the hotel had hot, fresh eggs! After a quick breakfast, I enjoyed the rest of my morning journaling on the terrace, with a breathtaking view of the Alps ahead of me. I met up with the group for class at 9 a.m. in one of the large conference rooms on the second floor. Bart began with a short German lesson consisting of laundry terms, so we could wash clothes at the hotel. We only had one mishap: the spin cycle was turned off for the first load, forcing Darrin to wring out his wet clothes and hang them up to dry.

Afterward, we formed groups of two to pull together the most important information from our BASF and Scheffel’s Brewery tours. The groups presented their findings and led the class in discussion. This exercise was followed by a Chase’s presentation on biodegradable plastics, which related to BASF’s Ecoflex.

We were then dismissed to work on our projects due this evening. My class, HNRS 2020, is writing individual cultural analysis papers, while the IE 4785 class is working on group video presentations on various forms of renewable energy. After lunch, class resumed at 1:30, and Stacey presented her research on the chemical instability of beer. We continued working on our projects well into the afternoon, and thankfully, the eggs we had for breakfast gave us enough fuel to finish our projects in time.

– Amy Olson, Civil Engineering Senior

Leading into Graduation: Leadership LSU Class of 2015

Courtney Irwin

Courtney Irwin

This month’s post comes from Courtney Irwin, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in leadership development. As an LSU student, Courtney served as the Engineers without Borders (EWB) chapter president. Courtney is also a candidate for the Distinguished Communicator certification, which recognizes students that demonstrate successful use of their communication skills in leadership roles and community service.

Leadership LSU is an annual program which addresses adaptive leadership through the lens of critical issues here in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. This year, the Leadership LSU Class of 2015 explored issues such as race, education, modern day slavery, and crime with various speakers including Maxine Crump, the first woman of color to live on LSU’s campus, and Dr. Laura Murphy, Founder and Director of Loyola University’s Modern Slavery Research Project. Participants gained specific insight into these issues and focused on the adaptive leadership challenges that each leader faced.

Leadership LSU Class of 2015

Leadership LSU Class of 2015

I learned an incredible amount about myself over the course of the program, and was able to identify challenges in my own life and my own leadership efforts that were echoed by the leaders and by my peers in each session. Throughout my time here at LSU and in the College of Engineering, I have been in many leadership positions, whether in small group settings or larger student organizations, and have faced many challenges. Some of these challenges stemmed from my own skills or my team members’ skills, but others were much greater challenges stemming from organizational or societal issues. Being able to reflect on my personal experiences while learning about the experiences of other leaders led me to many personal realizations and understandings. Sometimes, it is important to take a step back, as hard as it may be, and reevaluate a situation.

Courtney Irwin and fellow Leadership LSU Class of 2015 members

Courtney Irwin and fellow Leadership LSU Class of 2015 members

Even in a setting such as community service where you would like to be on the ground getting work done, it is sometimes more beneficial as a leader for you to step back, observe, and develop a new strategy before getting back in the action. Reflection can also be an incredible tool for growth. I was able to identify several aspects of my previous experiences and challenges that I had not extensively thought about before, and look at them with a new perspective.

The leadership and teamwork skills that I have learned throughout my time at LSU and through the Leadership LSU program have been, and will continue, to be invaluable as I move forward in my career. After graduation in May, I will work full-time in New Orleans, La. for Shell International Exploration and Production Co. as a Wells Engineer, specifically for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. As a drilling engineer, one works as a project engineer, interacting with people from many companies with different technical skills, educational backgrounds, and cultural backgrounds. It is very much a team position with inherent leadership because of the decisions that are left to the drilling engineers.

Many engineers are in roles with similar responsibilities and that require communication, team, and leadership skills. Be sure to make the most of the opportunities you are presented with here at LSU, both in and out of your classes. Geaux Tigers!

– By Courtney Irwin
Mechanical Engineering

Senior Design Project: Solving Real-World Problems

This month’s blog post comes to us from Alex Beem, a senior majoring in petroleum engineering. Originally from Houston, Texas, Alex decided to pursue his passion for the oil and gas industry. After visiting LSU’s College of Engineering, Alex knew that Baton Rouge would be the place he would call home and earn his undergraduate degree.

A long journey will finally come to an end on May 15, 2015. It all started my freshman year with the basic arithmetic and science classes when I was trying to find my place in this new world we call “college.” As I worked my way through the course flowchart, I kept my focus on the prize; which was to graduate from LSU (and receive my ring and diploma). I entered my senior year as motivated as ever to reach this goal and the courses were much more interesting than the ones I had taken earlier in my college career. Before my classmates and I could graduate, we had one more task to complete: a Senior Design Project.

Alex Beem

Alex Beem

In case you are not familiar with the Senior Design course, it is a class that is required for LSU engineering students to graduate. Future engineers have the opportunity to showcase their knowledge by solving a problem for industry professionals. This class is two semesters long and is composed of two phases. The first phase is planning, while the second is implementation. The planning phase taught me the organizational skills I needed to achieve the task at hand, and the implementation phase showed me that not all things can be planned for.

My group did our project on “Decline Curve Analysis for Unconventional Reservoirs.” If you are familiar with the oil and gas industry, you know that a major hurdle has been crossed recently. Due to new technology, many companies have started drilling into shale formations as opposed to sand formations. A reservoir in a shale formation would be considered an “unconventional” reservoir. The project we are working on analyzes new methods of determining production rates from these formations, since research has proven that the old way of making these decline curves resulted in inadequate results.

When first learning about this project, we knew it would be a difficult project that could yield great results. My group consists of three other guys: Ryan Burke, Paul Caplis, and Stephen Harris. What was so great about this group is that we all had different strengths to offer the team. Paul utilized his skills with computer programming, and designed a program in MATLAB to run his simulation. Stephen did the same for his model, and offered some much needed charisma during our many presentations. Ryan was very good at understanding the big picture of the project, and used his experience from his past internships to help guide us in making a professional presentation. I used my organizational skills to effectively communicate with the group, plan meetings, and set deadlines for various facets of our project.

For our senior project, we each took a developed model and applied it to a specific geographic region. We then took the data that was made available to us and forecasted decline curves. After making our forecasts, we were able to show that certain methods worked better than others. My teammates and I are very proud of our project. We believe it is a very relevant issue, and that our project will make a difference for some companies in the industry.

Forecasted decline curves for senior design project

Forecasted decline curves for senior design project

When I was a senior in high school, I remember touring the petroleum department and seeing the students mixing mud in mud lab. I remember seeing people sitting in front of the computers in the Patrick F. Taylor computer lab with three or four books open at the same time trying to do their homework, and thinking to myself that will be me one day. I think the biggest thing I have taken away from my senior year at LSU is that all of the hard work from early on has finally paid off. It is rewarding to know that you can work hard, but also have fun with what you do. That is the purpose behind the senior design project. We are now equipped with the knowledge to solve real-world problems and we can find fun and creative ways to do it.

-Alex Beem
Petroleum Engineering