Picture: The 2016-2017 council members standing in front of a subsea Christmas tree. These types of trees consist of a series of valves used to control the flow out of a well. Some trees are 9,000 ft under water. That’s a lot of pressure!
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Petroleum Division created the Collegiate Council in 2003 as a way to get college students involved in the oil and gas industry by networking with professionals, touring companies and facilities, and working with other like-minded students on a project for ASME. Two weeks ago, the 2016-2017 council members met in Houston for a three day conference. This was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the industry, meet like-minded college students, and receive lots of advice and words of wisdom from very knowledgeable and established engineers.
As a member of this year’s council, I am very eager and excited to share my wonderful experience and share a few things I learned.
Meetings are held twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. In the fall, teams are assigned a project that will benefit the ASME Petroleum Division and the Council, and the completed work is presented at the spring meeting. Both meetings also include presentations by engineers in the industry, networking opportunities, and tours.
On the current council, there are 41 college students with a wide range of backgrounds coming together from schools all over North America and Mexico. There are mechanical engineers, petroleum engineers, civil engineers, undergraduate students, master’s students, and Ph.D. students. Some have had work experience, others haven’t. It is a diverse council that brings together people with vastly different backgrounds, but all with one thing in common: the eagerness to learn more about the oil and gas industry and be set apart from other engineering students.
The fall conference this year kicked off with dinner and a social mixer. Then the next day, the first day of the meeting started with presentations by representatives from two major companies. They shared what their companies do and what they do. What impacted me the most was the knowledge and advice imparted by these two engineers that made me consider things that had never crossed my mind before.
One topic of discussion that had me thinking the most was the importance of focusing on the present moment. The exact words of advice were to “Be amazing at the job you have now – don’t always focus on the next thing.”
What I’ve noticed in my experience is that as students, we’re usually fixated on the future – what classes we should take next semester, what internships and jobs to apply for, what career we want, the list goes on and on. We’re trained to think ahead, which can lead to overlooking the present. However, what if the trick is to always be aware of the present moment while also simultaneously being conscious of future growth? Thinking in this manner allows you to do your best in your current position as a student, and in doing so, develop a great work ethic, perform better in your current classes, learn material more thoroughly to develop a better foundation of knowledge, and ultimately, once in the work force, be eligible for a promotion sooner by showing mastery of your current tasks.
In other words, thought should always be given to things that can be accomplished in the current moment to prepare for the future. What can you do, right now, to be a better student and prepare yourself for a career?
In answer, joining the ASME Collegiate Council is a way to develop soft skills like communication while also learning about technical topics. Plus, it looks great on a resume to have this extra experience!
Also during the meeting, we toured the facility of one of the world’s leading manufacturers of offshore drilling and production equipment. At their campus, they have furnaces and quench tanks to heat treat raw steel ingots. In striking resemblance to a junk yard, they have large chunks of steel all over their yard – steel that is in various stages of manufacturing. With this scene in mind, you really wouldn’t think serious manufacturing was going on inside the buildings! In addition to forging the steel, they also manufacture the parts on site, so once the metal has been quenched and tempered to have the desired material properties, they machine the parts using extremely large lathes. Looking at pictures of an offshore oil rig, or the picture at the top of this blog post, it’s difficult to understand the size and immensity of the parts and equipment. The technology used to build, maintain, operate, and monitor off-shore oil rigs is very sophisticated equipment, especially in subsea drilling when the equipment on the ocean floor must be able to withstand extremely high pressures. Being able to see and touch the parts really puts the whole things into perspective.
It is this kind of first-hand experience and knowledge that is invaluable when it comes to advancing in a career – it is what distinguishes graduates from others with the same degree. Additionally, networking is invaluable at any point in time in a career path, and it allows for the opportunity to learn from extremely knowledgeable engineers. These are two reasons I’m glad I joined the ASME Petroleum Division Collegiate Council. It is a great opportunity to meet new people from a variety of backgrounds, learn more about the oil and gas industry, gain some first-hand experience, and overall just learn how to be a better engineer.
The website for the ASME Petroleum Division Collegiate Council is http://www.asme-ipti-cc.org/
. Applications open during the summer and close around August.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry or just want to learn more about it, I strongly encourage you to apply for next year’s council!
Kelsey Fieseler | Mechanical Engineering
is a first-year Master’s student in Mechanical Engineering from Sugar Land, Texas.