Petroleum Student Wins Industry Scholarship

SOCORRO, N.M. May 12, 2010 – Petroleum engineering junior Breanne Dunaway won a competitive scholarship from the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers Foundation for Energy Education in late April.

Breanne Dunaway, petroleum engineering junior, poses at New Mexico Tech's signature pump jack.

Dunaway said she was excited to be the first New Mexico Tech student to win the Joseph King McMahon Petroleum Engineering Scholarship – and the first winner not from a Texas university. Students from nine universities with petroleum engineering departments applied for the scholarship. Dunaway won based on two essays and her academic record.

Dunaway received the $2,500 award at the Alliance’s annual expo in Wichita Falls, Texas, which was attended by more than 1,100 industry representatives.

“I think it was a really good thing for Tech,” Dunaway said. “The few people who had heard of us said this is an awesome school. But not many people at the Expo had really heard of Tech. Now there are 1,100 more people who know about New Mexico Tech.”

Established in 2006, the scholarship helps academically gifted petroleum engineering students who are involved in their campus community. The scholarship committee looks for a student who is expected to contribute to the petroleum industry and encourage others to pursue this field.

Dunaway said she enjoys working with youngsters and encouraging them to pursue science and engineering as an education and career. She has been involved with outreach efforts in Socorro schools through the petroleum department. As vice president of the student chapter of the Society for Women Engineers, she has helped organize outreach projects at local events, like SocorroFest, to encourage girls to pursue engineering.

“I really like working with younger children because it’s important to get them interested in math and science at a young age,” Dunaway said. “

Dunaway developed an interest in math, science and engineering at a young age. As a high school student, she learned of Tech’s mini-course from a friend of the family, New Mexico Tech Regent Ann Murphy Daily.

Breanne Dunaway and Mr. McMahon at the Alliance's Expo.

She enjoyed the petroleum engineering mini-course so much that she came back to Socorro to work at the Petroleum Recovery Research Center and take a college course before her senior year in high school. Dunaway said Murphy Daily has become her mentor and champion over the year.

“If Breanne considers me to be a mentor, I assure you that I’ve learned as much from her as she may have from me,” Murphy Daily said. “Breanne is an amazing and gifted young woman. As her long-time friend, I’ve had the opportunity to observe firsthand her drive for excellence and success. She excels in her academics and still finds times to contribute her strong leadership skills to mentoring others.  I am so proud of all she has achieved at New Mexico Tech.”

Dr. Tom Engler, Petroleum Engineering Department chair, said Dunaway is deserving of the award and a credit to New Mexico Tech.

“She’s excellent – one of the best,” Engler said. “She’s hard-working, dedicated and very intelligent. She has all the qualities of a successful engineer; she shows initiative and critical thinking.”

A native of Holdrege, Neb., she is the daughter of Robert and Sandy Dunaway.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech