Petroleum Students Represent Tech At Roundhouse

SANTA FE, N.M. March 11, 2011 – Petroleum engineering students made a strong showing during Oil & Gas Day at the N.M. Legislature in late February.
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Breanne Dunaway is the president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers on campus. Above, she addresses the audience at the state Roundhouse during Oil and Gas Day in mid-February.

Student members of the SPE staff an informational booth during Oil and Gas Day. Tech students met industry leaders and promoted both the university and the department during the event.  Photos by Aliph Tharuvayi Reena/New Mexico Tech SPE Chapter

The contingent of 18 students met with legislators, interacted with industry and government officials and answered questions from the inquiring public. The students left Santa Fe with plans for a new outreach project, plenty of contacts, a glimpse into the political world and some inspiration.

Senior Breanne Dunaway, the president of the campus chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, spoke during a press conference hosted by the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico.

“I felt really honored to speak at the Roundhouse and represent New Mexico Tech and our department,” Dunaway said. “It was a good experience to tell people about us and how we contribute to the energy business and the oil-and-gas industry.”

In her speech, she lauded her education at New Mexico Tech and the opportunities offered at the Petroleum Recovery Research Center.

“There is not enough time today to tell you how fulfilling my experience at New Mexico Tech has been and how much I enjoy working here in New Mexico in the summers in the oil and gas industry,” Dunaway said. “Tech’s first-class education has more than prepared me to excel as a petroleum engineer.”

Dunaway also talked about how the petroleum and natural gas industries contribute tax revenues to the state of New Mexico and how companies contribute to local culture.

“Oil and gas funds public education and universities,” she said. “It builds roads, schools and senior centers. New Mexico’s oil and gas producers are known for countless community projects, mentorship programs and scholarships, such as the scholarships which have helped to pay for my own terrific Tech education.”

She closed her comments by encouraging people to support legislation that will help the oil and gas industry produce more revenues for the state of New Mexico.

Junior Aaron Ramirez was recently elected to be the chapter president for next year. He said Oil and Gas Day was an important gathering for Tech students for many reasons, including the opportunity to meet experts and leaders in the field.

“I think it’s important that industry people – from companies and organizations – see that we are active in the community,” Ramirez said. “Building up those contacts and getting our name out there is crucial, especially with independent companies.”

The Santa Fe event opened doors for students and gave New Mexico Tech public exposure to state decision-makers and industry leaders – but Oil and Gas Day also was an instructional event for the students.

“Oil and Gas Day allowed us to see the other side of the petroleum industry – the political side,” current chapter secretary  Jay Geist said. “We learn about how to get it out of the ground and a bit of the business side, but politics is a large influence. The government controls where we can drill and how much we can produce.”

Dunaway said many of the laws and regulations that relate to oil and gas production are not necessarily based on sound science.

“The source of problems with legislation is that people don’t understand what’s going on,” she said. “If we can educate people about it scientifically, it can help make a difference.”

As a result of Oil and Gas Day, club members connected with Energy4me, which is an educational outreach program sponsored by SPE International. The program also teaches students about all forms of energy, not just petroleum. Ramirez said one of his major goals as chapter president is to get Tech students involved as ambassadors for Energy4me.

Geist said the club hopes to spearhead an Energy4me petroleum education program in Artesia, which is in the heart of the New Mexico oil and gas fields.

“It’d be a good opportunity for the SPE chapter,” he said. “We will be able to teach kids about what we do here at Tech, what the industry is like and get them familiar with what they can do with a degree from Tech.”

The efforts could also serve as a good recruiting effort as well.

Ramirez said the club is already planning other community service and outreach efforts as well. Students are volunteering at the Socorro Animal Shelter and have plans to serve as tutors in Socorro public schools.

“We just want to expand our efforts and get our club’s name to the Socorro community,” Ramirez said.

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The 18 Tech student members of the  Society of Petroleum Engineers pose at the New Mexico Tech booth during Oil and Gas Day at the Roundhouse. This is the first time that Tech students have attended the daylong event.


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By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech