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Petroleum Student Rakes In Scholarships

SOCORRO, N.M. September 23, 2011– New Mexico Tech is full of exceptional students aiming for a career in science or engineering. Some of them just take a short detour before landing in Socorro … and Kyle Pettigrew is one of them.

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 Kyle Pettigrew accepts a scholarship check from Dr. Warren Ostergren, chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Ostergren presented Pettigrew with an award from the Petroleum Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

A junior in petroleum engineering, he earned a bachelor’s in business from Montana Tech in 2004 and went to work in the oil industry in his hometown of Farmington, N.M.

“I worked for a small company and I liked the petroleum industry,” he said. “But my business degree wasn’t opening doors for me. I knew an engineering degree would open more doors to different opportunities.”

He started at San Juan College in Farmington, then transferred to New Mexico Tech during the summer of 2010. He is looking forward to landing an internship for next summer and graduating in 2013. In addition to his petroleum studies, he is pursuing a minor in mechanical engineering.

“Tech has been challenging, which I expected,” he said. “You don’t go to school for engineering because it’s easy. I enjoy my classes and the school size. Here, you get to know your professors better.”

Dr. Tom Engler, chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department, said Pettigrew is a diligent student, a capable researcher and a helpful hand.

“He’s a great guy, very out-going,” Engler said. “He’s an outstanding student and a real go-getter. He just comes in the office and asks what we need help on.”

Now, Pettigrew has translated his work ethic and ability into a slew of scholarships over the summer. Pettigrew earned awards from the Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute, the Petroleum Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Petroleum Institute and the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America.

“I’ve done pretty well this summer,” Pettigrew said. “It’s nice having school paid for. I did the research and found the right scholarships. The Petroleum Engineering Department does really well at funding. We’re one of the older departments, so we have a lot of donors who are graduates who give back to the school.”

Pettigrew works part-time at Macey Center and volunteers for the student chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. He has proved to be effective at selling raffle tickets and finding sponsors for the club’s annual golf tournament. He also has been involved with Engler’s research team that is producing a comprehensive report on potential oil and gas plays in southeast New Mexico, commissioned by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

“He started on general data collection,” Engler said. “He worked so well and was so reliable that I had confidence in his skills that I allowed him to do data analysis as well.”

Ultimately, he’d like to settle down in Farmington with his wife. First, however, he’d like to see where a career in petroleum can take him.

“I’d like to go see other parts of the country or the world,” he said. “I’m not a fan of big cities, but it’d be nice to experience the world a bit – to say we’ve been there, wherever the jobs take me.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech