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If this was March Madness, the safe pick would be to go for a big-name school. But athletic prowess has nothing to do with this bracketed tournament. Smarts do.
A five-member University of Wyoming petroleum engineering contingent is the No. 1 ranked team heading into the 13th international PetroBowl Oct. 27 in Amsterdam. A total of 36 universities from around the world will compete for top prizes in the event that tests students’ knowledge of the oil and gas industry.
The remaining top 10 teams ranked behind UW are Stanford University; Montana Tech; Brigham Young University; Texas A&M University; University of Calgary; University of Oklahoma; Missouri S&T; University of Texas; and University of North Dakota.
Among the international universities represented are teams from Brazil, China, Columbia, Dubai, Indonesia, Istanbul, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.
In only its third appearance, the UW petroleum engineering team has achieved its highest-ever ranking going into the international competition, says Chelse Felts, UW’s Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) student chapter president and a UW Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering junior from Cody.
“I know all of the UW SPE students, including me, could not be more proud to be a part of it,” Felts says. “Since our petroleum engineering department continues to grow -- with nearly 400 undergraduates enrolled -- it is important that we stay competitive with other schools in the country and the world. Our ranking in this competition proves we can do just that.”
Representing UW on the five-member team are petroleum engineering seniors Frank Boda of Kelly; Evan Egenolf, Indianapolis, Ind.; Kyle Schriner, Thornton, Colo.; Tyson Teichert of Cokeville; and Jacques White from Daniel. They have gained hands-on experience completing summer internships. The students worked for companies in such places as Jonah Field in Sublette County and in Corpus Christi and Houston, Texas.
UW students’ performance in the PetroBowl is in line with UW’s Tier-1 Engineering Initiative, which aims to lift the College of Engineering and Applied Science to international prominence.
PetroBowl matches SPE student chapter teams against each other in a fast-paced quiz competition. The teams are challenged to answer both technical and non-technical questions associated with the oil and gas industry.
The competition takes place at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE), an event that showcases the newest technologies, products and best practices. It also addresses all conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources from around the world. PetroBowl is an event at the conference that allows students to display their talent, Felts says.
“ATCE is the best place for a student to network and learn,” she adds. “It is an incredible opportunity to be able to take students to this international event, and our ranking for PetroBowl will make it even more exciting to be able to cheer on our team.”
As the top seed, UW drew a first-round bye and will take on the winner of the Heriot Watt University (Dubai) and Federal University of Petroleum Resource Effurun (Nigeria) in the second round.
To qualify for the tournament, UW students, last April, answered 10 questions focusing on both technical and non-technical questions about the energy industry, all completed online. Time also factored into how teams were ranked along with how many questions were answered correctly, White says.
“They don’t tell how many we got right, but it was good enough to be first,” Felts says proudly. “We were sure that we did well enough to qualify, but none of us left the qualification thinking ‘we killed it.’ After we got the results, we all were very excited.”
To prepare for the competition, White says the UW contingent will divide into teams, with the focus being individuals’ strengths. Some have more experience in production engineering, drilling engineering, reservoir engineering, or are more knowledgeable about the oil and gas industry itself.
“We also will go over prior PetroBowl questions that were given and study what the judges have asked in the past,” White adds.
In previous competitions, questions have included history, trivia, current events, technical questions, calculations and problem-solving.
The games will be single-elimination in which two teams compete. Each participant uses an electronic device that determines who buzzes in first to answer a question. The school with the most points at the end of the round advances to the next round.
Felts says she’s proud that the UW team is the top-seeded school. It shows UW can produce some incredible engineers who can compete, not only on the national level, but also internationally as well.
With the energy sources in the state, many Wyoming students choose UW to further their education, especially those looking at the engineering sector, White says.
“A lot of Wyoming students’ families have that energy-related experience, and that’s why they come to UW. The engineering program here builds a solid foundation for a successful career,” he says. “The state has a lot to offer in terms of energy resources, and UW has the experienced staff and the ability to help the students obtain a well-rounded education.
“We may not have the familiar name recognition as other schools, such as Texas A&M or Colorado School of Mines, but we do produce some quality people here at UW,” White adds.
Along with the UW PetroBowl team and Felts, those attending the ACTE conference are: Alyssa Bradley, Castle Rock, Colo.; Kenneth MacIntyre, Los Alamos, Calif.; Thomas Pointon, Riverton; and Shirah Reyher, Comanche, Okla.