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Meet the students behind the OTC Energy Challenge

Release date: April 30, 2018

The next generation of engineers, scientists and innovators will showcase their talents at the 2018 Offshore Technology Conference as they compete in the OTC Energy Challenge on May 2

 

The program is a team competition for Houston-area high school students to solve real-world energy challenges, with projects ranging from developing an augmented reality mobile app to designing an offshore solar farm. BP returns as the presenting sponsor of the second annual event.

 

Over 60 students from more than 10 schools have been working for months on their projects, which they’ll present to the wider OTC audience at an e-poster session within the formal conference program. The top three winning teams will be selected by a panel of industry experts and will receive cash prizes sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, BHP and BP. E-posters are provided by KPMG, the International Association of Drilling Contractors and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

 

Here, students from six teams share their experiences in their own words: 

Olivia Bangs - Grade 10, The Village School

Challenge: Design a self-diagnosing, self-healing offshore production facility

 

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the energy industry?

 

“This competition has been a valuable experience for me because it exposed me to the wide variety of job opportunities available in the energy industry. I also learned that with the advancement and integration of technology in the industry, programming will become an even more important skill for success in this and other industries.”

 

What are your college and career goals?

 

“This project, in conjunction with learning to code, has made me reconsider what I want to major in when I go to college. I am currently considering majoring in computer science, and I hope to combine programming and human factors into a career in an industry such as oil and gas.”

Olivia Bangs, The Village School
Patrick Frain, Westside High School

Patrick Frain - Grade 11, Westside High School

Challenge: Redesign an offshore facility or vessel so that it is better equipped to weather storms with stronger winds and rising wave height

 

Why did you decide to participate in the OTC Energy Challenge?

 

“I had heard about OTC last year, and I told my dean that I was interested in being a participant this year. I was selected along with three of my peers. I wanted to participate in the OTC Energy Challenge because it's such an awesome opportunity to meet representatives from the oil and gas industry.”

 

What are your college and career goals?

 

“After I graduate high school, I plan to major in either civil or petroleum engineering. I would also like to pursue a business minor so that I can work in an engineering startup later in my career.”

Serina Garcia - Grade 11, Madison High School

Challenge: Develop an augmented reality app that provides added health, safety, environmental and business benefits for the maintenance of a turbine-driven gas compressor or produced water treatment system

 

What was the most surprising or unexpected thing you learned while working on your team’s project?

 

“Just because you have a plan that sounds good, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work. My team had a lot of great ideas and plans, but we failed to realize that reality may have a different way of viewing things. We now have a greater appreciation for the phrase ‘expect the unexpected.’”

 

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the energy industry?

 

“The most interesting thing I’ve learned is how complex and difficult produced water treatment is. I once thought certain things in the energy industry — produced water treatment, in particular — were a lot less complicated. Now I have a completely different perspective and have gained a new respect for the process.”

Serina Garcia, Madison High School
Ishan Kamat, St. John’s School

Ishan Kamat - Grade 11, St. John’s School

Challenge: Design an offshore solar farm

 

What are your college and career goals?

 

“Mechanical engineering seems like the best way for me to solve problems that affect people on a large scale, whether it be designing turbines for the aviation industry, improving robotics efficiency for the manufacturing industry, or even working on drill design in the energy industry.”

 

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the energy industry?

 

“Through OTC, I learned that the energy industry cares about the environment and wants to find long-term solutions to the problems we face today, be it carbon emissions or oil shortages or damages to ocean environments.”

Catherine Parnell - Grade 12, Stratford High School

Challenge: Design a smarter and more efficient floating wind turbine

 

What was the most surprising or unexpected thing you learned while working on your team’s project?

 

“My responsibility in our group was to focus on the data aspect of the wind farm construction; I specialized in the political, social, economic and environmental parts of our group’s research. Prior to receiving our task, I was preparing myself to deal primarily with pure technical concepts that one would think of when you traditionally think of engineering.”

 

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the energy industry?

 

“As someone who hopes to study statistics, applied mathematics and both political and economic public policy in college next year, I was amazed by the broad applications of these fields in companies like BP.”

Catherine Parnell, Stratford High School
Jared Sorenson,  George Ranch High School

Jared Sorensen - Grade 12, George Ranch High School

Challenge: Design a self-diagnosing, self-healing offshore production facility

 

Why did you decide to participate in the OTC Energy Challenge?

 

“I want to study chemical engineering, and this gives me the opportunity to better understand what the engineering disciplines do. I think participating in the project will help me to see which engineering discipline I like best.”

 

What was the most surprising or unexpected thing you learned while working on your team’s project?

 

“This project has given me insight into what being on a real project would be like. The most interesting thing that I learned was how wells are drilled, and how far wells can go. I also found it interesting that many oil platforms in deep water are actually floating, and that creates a lot more technical details.”