By Kelli Ainsworth, Editorial Coordinator
IADC’s first-ever student chapter, at Texas A&M University, received its certificate of organization at a luncheon held by the association’s Houston Chapter at the Petroleum Club on 31 January. “When you’re a student at a university and you’re in your last few years, you don’t always know what’s out there,” Andy Hendricks, 2017 IADC Chairman and President/CEO of Patterson-UTI Energy, said at the luncheon. “Having an organization like IADC at the student level allows students to really understand what kind of career opportunities are out there and where they might fit in the professional oil and gas industry.”
For years, IADC had been considering ways to reach out to the next generation of industry professionals, said Ron Lee, Director of Marketing and Contracts for Noble Drilling, who is serving as the IADC adviser for the Texas A&M student chapter. “If you look at our stakeholder map for IADC, a key element that’s missing is a formal vehicle for engaging with the next generation of young professionals,” he said.
At the same time, students had expressed a desire for opportunities to engage with the drilling industry while still in school.
Last year, when members of the IADC Houston Chapter were interviewing Texas A&M students for scholarships, one student asked whether IADC had any student organizations. That student, Corey Wittig, now serves as Chairman of the IADC Texas A&M Chapter. Mr Wittig, a senior petroleum engineering major, noted that existing professional organizations at Texas A&M bring in speakers to lecture the students about the industry, but they don’t provide students the opportunity to engage directly with oil and gas professionals. “That was a gap in our experience at Texas A&M,” he said. “We didn’t have any networking and personal connection experiences.”
In addition to Mr Wittig, the student chapter’s leadership includes senior petroleum engineering majors Zachary Matous and Wendolyne Castillo and sophomore petroleum engineering major Zack Aldelamy. Together, they will be working to provide networking experiences through regular meetings, technical workshops, well control courses and a golf tournament. “Whenever you get into the industry, when you get your first job out of college, you won’t be going in blind,” Mr Wittig said. “You’ll have these connections, these associations already built into your college experience.”
The chapter’s first meeting was held on the Texas A&M campus on 13 February and was primarily informational for students who may be interested. While joining a student chapter of IADC is a natural choice for petroleum engineering students, the organization is open to students from all disciplines with an interest in the oil and gas industry, Mr Wittig said. “We want to promote crossdisciplinary interaction,” he said. “We want to engage students that may be typically isolated within their departments. We’re trying to get them to engage together so that they’re more prepared for whenever they get into the industry and actually have to engage on a multidisciplinary basis, with different types of people.”
Later this month, the chapter will host a well control class to be taught by Randy Smith of Smith, Mason and Co. In addition, the student chapter is seeking sponsorship to participate in the Houston Chapter’s charity shoot on 10 March in Houston and to hold a golf tournament in April. It’s also in the process of planning a round table dinner with members of industry.
The student chapter will also work to foster a closer relationship between the university and IADC, giving more companies the opportunities to take advantage of faculty expertise at the university, Dr Jerome Schubert, the chapter’s faculty sponsor, said. “You could work with some great professors and great grad students to solve problems for the industry,” he said. Already, Texas A&M faculty are working on projects with Statoil, Enhanced Drilling, Tenaris and US Steel.
The more the industry lends its support, the more the chapter will be able to succeed, and the better-positioned IADC will be to create additional student chapters at other universities. “Texas A&M is a great place to kick off the student chapter for IADC, and we expect to be able to grow it to other universities after this has become a model for how to make it work,” Mr Hendricks said. “We certainly encourage everybody’s support in helping sustain this and make it successful at Texas A&M so that it can be successful at other universities as well.”
IADC is already engaging with additional universities that have expressed interest in establishing local student chapters. Rather than focusing only on schools with strong petroleum engineering programs, IADC is looking for opportunities to start student chapters at as many universities as possible. “One thing we’ve tried to establish from the beginning is it’s not just about engineering, but also other disciplines like accounting and finance,” said Chris Menefee, President of the Houston Chapter and Vice President of Business Development at Independence Contract Drilling. “There are a lot of disciplines that students are learning that IADC and our industry can benefit from.” As IADC begins to launch student chapters at other schools, the association will look to university alumni in the drilling industry for assistance, Mr Menefee said.