“Arise, awake, and keep moving on your way till you achieve your goal.”
—SPE Student Chapter, ISM (Dhanbad)
With a 126-member-strong fleet of student members, the SPE Student Chapter at Indian School of Mines (ISM) Dhanbad, India, enjoys the credit of being the oldest student chapter in India. The chapter was established in 1988, but it was only a few years ago that all the students could join SPE, thanks to the Halliburton and Schlumberger student-sponsorship programs.
Since its inception, the chapter has been quite active with programs offering student interaction with the industry. It regularly organizes guest lectures by eminent people from the industry. Recent speakers include Carolyn Green, Chief Production Geologist with Shell (U.S.), who introduced us to the company’s international operations, and John Turner, Director Operations British Gas, who gave an overview of British Gas’s worldwide business. From Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) Chief Geologist Ajay Kumar shared his views about the latest developments in wireline logging. Yuri Makagon (SPE Distinguished Lecturer), scientist, Texas A&M U., gave a special lecture on natural-gas hydrates. And with summer internships at companies such as Schlumberger, British Gas, Cairn, Reliance, and ONGC, students get a chance to get practical experience in the field and a chance to meet industry professionals. ISM students have been recognized in the following programs:
- Schlumberger University Handshake program—one student was recognized in the first year of the program.
- 19th World Energy Congress, Sydney, Australia—one of our students was selected for the event.
- SPE Middle East Student Paper Contest—two students were selected for the contest, one of whom won third prize.
- SPE Asia Pacific Student Paper Contest—one student of the junior year was selected for the contest.
Since students see themselves as soon-to-be young professionals in the oil and gas industry, they certainly would like to interact with young professionals and gain from their experiences. Students are hopeful that new programs such as the Young E&P Professionals (YEPPs) Ambassador Lecturer Program will forge effective relationships with local student chapters and facilitate the active mentoring of students. Students believe that young professionals can act as links between the students and the industry, since it is easier for the students to approach these young people and communicate with them. For example, they could inform students and faculty of, and possibly provide them with copies of, the latest software used in the industry so that by the time the students graduate, they are proficient with tools needed for their new jobs. They could also provide the students with actual field problems to be used as projects to help prepare students both mentally and technically for work they will be doing soon after graduation. Further, they could come up with guest lecture programs featuring both technical and nontechnical topics. A recent SPE survey found that the greatest inadequacies of engineering education are management and people skills. Young professionals can address these issues and suggest what our focus should be apart from the normal required course-load during our study. But for all of these initiatives, we need to have committed and honest people who will show an accurate picture of the industry.
At the 2005 Asia Pacific Student Paper Contest held in conjunction with the 2005 Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, not many local students turned up either at the exhibition or the YEPP workshop despite the fact that SPE offered free entry to students for both. I could barely spot seven or eight local students in addition to the contestants. I hope there is a lot of scope of improvement in arousing students’ interests in SPE and the petroleum industry in general. The industry and SPE must work diligently to develop this contingent of its membership. One promising program will provide students and young professionals with mentors. Students could benefit from the guidance of an industry professional, and e-mentoring could accomplish this across geographical boundaries.
The Way Ahead provides an excellent resource for students. It fills a gap by catering to the needs of students and young professionals who prefer a different level of detail when it comes to technology and problem solving. Planning additional regional meetings designed for young professionals and students to meet and collaborate also would strengthen the functional linkage between these groups. With good communication and partnership, students and young professionals can create additional programs and initiatives to make the transition from student member to young professional a smooth one.
Vivek Swami is a junior studying petroleum engineering at ISM Dhanbad, India. He is a member of the YEPP Professional Network and has been a student member of SPE since August 2002. He has been selected by British Gas, India, for a summer internship at the end of his junior year. He also had practical work experience at the ONGC Mehsana, Ankleshwar, and Ahmedabad fields. He presented technical papers at the 2005 SPE Asia Pacific Student Paper Contest and at the 2005 Pakistan Oil, Gas, and Energy Exhibition.