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

10 Tips to Help you Prepare for Finals Week

Updated 11/30/2016

Finals week is quickly approaching at LSU, and it’s essential that you plan ahead to not only survive in your classes, but to thrive academically, physically and mentally. Check out these tips to help you prepare for finals week.

1. Plan ahead.
Double-check the times and dates of your finals. Ask your professors whether the exam will be cumulative so you can plan your studying ahead of time. Create a study schedule, write it down and stick to it! It’s never too early to begin tackling those formulas and concepts.

Plan ahead.

Plan ahead.

2. Eat healthy.
It can be really easy to drink energy drinks and eat junk food while studying. Try to avoid sugary and fatty snacks and replace them with fresh fruit, vegetables and water. You’ll feel better and have more energy.

3. Get sleep.
We’ve all heard that you can only pick two of these things in college: good grades, a social life and sleep. This is a blatant lie. It is possible to get a good eight hours of sleep each night while still maintaining good grades and good friendships. Start studying now so you won’t have to pull all-nighters during dead week. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle those exams.

Get sleep.

Get sleep.

4. Get help from the LSU Center for Academic Success.
Did you know that the Center for Academic Success offers free tutoring for dozens of classes, including math, chemistry and physics? The best part is that tutoring at CAS is free, and no appointment is necessary. Check out the CAS website to learn which tutoring sessions are available.

5. Learn to reduce stress from the LSU Center for Academic Success.
No one said college would be easy. In fact, many students feel symptoms of stress and anxiety while in school. You should know that you are not alone with your emotions, and that there are ways to battle stress. Check out ways to assess, manage and reduce stress from the Center for Academic Success. If you’re feeling really overwhelmed, LSU Mental Health Services is a helpful and confidential resource for all students.

6. Get help with your writing from CxC.
Whether you’re writing a book report, English essay or engineering research report, LSU’s Communication Across the Curriculum (CxC) can give you feedback and help with all your writing. Schedule an appointment with a CxC writing coach now in order to learn how to improve your papers.

Get help with your writing.

Get help with your writing.

7. Study at the library, reserve a room.
Do you struggle with finding a table to study at the library? Worry no more by reserving a study room at Middleton. You can use these rooms to practice presentations, collaborate for group study or study quietly with friends. Middleton is now open 24/5, so you can stay late at the library if need be.

8. Get help with research from a librarian.
Are you searching for a source for your research to no avail? All of LSU’s librarians are here to serve you, and help you will all your research needs. You can consult librarians with a one-on-one appointment or via email, phone or even text.

9. Go to the Student Health Center at the first signs of sickness.
When temperatures drop, students get sick. Be it a cough, fever or aches, the Student Health Center can help you. Schedule an appointment with a doctor at the first sign of sickness to avoid fighting illness along with your studies. If the Student Health Center is all booked, you can still see a nurse without an appointment.

10. Stay active.
Working out is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress and get your mind moving. Make it a habit to get active multiple times a day in order to stay healthy. The UREC offers cardio machines, weight machines, basketball courts, tennis courts and GroupX Fitness classes that feature yoga, zumba, kickboxing and more.

Stay active. (Photo courtesy of LSU Daily Reveille)

Stay active.
(Photo courtesy of LSU Daily Reveille)

– Contributed by Danielle Kelley
LSU College of Engineering communications intern