SPE 101

How SPE Helps To Prepare the Future Generation of Oil and Gas Professionals

Paulo Pires, SPE, Petrobras

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is the largest individual-member organization serving managers, engineers, scientists, and other professionals worldwide in the upstream oil and gas industry. This puts SPE in a great position to support the industry in its pursuit of technical and operational excellence.

 The Society achieves its goals by several means, namely technical events and seminars, publications, training programs, conferences, volunteer opportunities, and recognition for outstanding industry professionals. It also contributes to the industry by providing opportunities for young professionals to strengthen their technical competencies and build upon professional qualities that will help their career advancement.

In addition to the industry, SPE extends its arm into the student community by supporting student chapters in educational institutions across the globe. On its website, a number of initiatives aimed at promoting student integration into the local industry are described. This includes financial support in the form of scholarships and fellowships from the local section as well as SPE International, and the Society dedicates more than USD 1 million toward this cause. Today, the number of student members represents an important share of SPE membership, accounting for more than 50,000 worldwide at the end of 2014. Through the sponsorship of Chevron, students have the option of waiving their annual dues, thus making it easier for the aspiring young professionals to access the many resources offered by SPE.

In addition, SPE provides support to students looking to select their program of study while in high school or early university through the Energy4me program. Its website serves as a valuable guide to the types of petroleum engineering programs in which students can enroll in university and the different careers in the industry. It also gives basic facts about the oil and gas industry and energy usage in our economies. To learn more about the Energy4me program, visit www.energy4me.org.

SPE also has recommendations for the minimum technical background that students should seek to acquire during their studies. The SPE Task Force on Minimal Competency has developed matrices aimed at defining the appropriate skill set to meet and exceed the minimum competency requirements. The competency matrices cover various technical disciplines at different stages of industry careers and can be used as a guide to help select courses or programs in university. 

Next to supporting technical development and career choice, SPE creates opportunities for students to enrich their nontechnical abilities. With involvement in the activities of an SPE student chapter, students engage in valuable extracurricular activities, such as the promotion of events and community service. Student chapter officers are able to practice teamwork, learn time management skills, and manage roles and responsibilities.

Chapter involvement also breeds opportunities for members to reach industry professionals, including members of local SPE sections, young professionals, and practitioners. Another benefit of these contacts—perhaps the most important one—is networking. Students can expose their technical and nontechnical abilities, commitment levels, and working potentials to the industry. Many of the professionals involved in student chapter relations activities often are plugged into the happenings in their campus recruitment programs.

While honoring prominent industry professionals, SPE also recognizes student members for their achievements. Annually, undergraduate and graduate students participate in the Regional Paper Contests promoted by the 11 SPE regions. Regional winners are eligible to participate in the International Student Paper Contest that takes place during the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. The 2015 conference will be held in Houston. These events recognize not only the research results attained by the students, but also their presentation and writing skills.

There are a number of volunteer opportunities available for SPE members to contribute to the community. If you recently started your career, the description of how you have succeeded in your first professional steps provides great material for the SPE Ambassador Lecturer Program. Experienced members can share their expertise and participate as a mentor in the SPE eMentoring Program. All professionals can engage with their local community and volunteer as part of the Energy4me program, providing key input to teachers and aspiring students looking to learn more about the industry.

SPE guides and helps all its members to achieve at every level of their career with its comprehensive support. Whether you are an undergraduate student seeking additional skills or an accomplished professional interested in contributing to the younger generation, an opportunity awaits you to better your career or the career of others.

To learn more, visit www.spe.org.