Texas A&M University launches entrepreneurial program for petroleum industry

The business and engineering colleges at Texas A&M University are partnering in a new entrepreneurial training program to better prepare undergraduate and graduate students interested in the oil and gas industry.

Petroleumventuresprogram 375x 225The Petroleum Ventures Program (PVP) is a certificate program funded by a $12 million gift by Anthony Bahr and Jay Graham, business partners in Houston-based WildHorse Resources Management Company.  Both Bahr and Graham graduated from Texas A&M, Bahr in 1991 and Graham in 1992 in petroleum engineering. The partners’ gift stemmed from Bahr and Graham’s personal experience in identifying the industry importance and student benefit of providing business experience to engineering students, as well as the market value of graduating finance students with a specialization in the oil and gas industry.

“Thanks to the generosity and foresight of Mr. Bahr and Mr. Graham, Texas A&M has a magnificent opportunity to have an even more prominent role in providing intellectually transformative learning experiences that are so vital to our state and nation,” said Texas A&M University President Michael Young. “The entrepreneurial emphasis for the program reflects their expectation of excellence and their success—success to which they attribute in part to what they learned here at Texas A&M. It is very fitting that this bold new venture takes advantage of the strengths of both our engineering and business programs, offering an interdisciplinary experience that will well serve our students, presenting them with a competitive advantage among their peers as they enter the workforce.”

This academic collaboration between Mays Business School and the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering will foster teamwork among petroleum engineering students and students in the Department of Finance at Mays. Students will take courses and work together on projects, and a Petroleum Business Impact Lab will be established.

The first classes for the PVP Certificate Program will be offered in Fall 2016.

The program will target undergraduate and graduate petroleum engineering students and business students who have a desire to work in energy finance or petroleum acquisitions and divestitures fields, as well as petroleum engineers or business graduates who are employed and seeking specialized training. After completing the program, graduates will be better prepared to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities in the petroleum industry.

“Providing entrepreneurial opportunities for our students is critical in better preparing them for our changing workforce requirements,” said M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering. “We appreciate Anthony Bahr and Jay Graham for supporting a program that will help increase the marketability and success of graduates.”

The petroleum engineering component will be called the Graham Petroleum Ventures Program and the Mays component will be called the Bahr Petroleum Ventures Program.

“This program is an example of innovation in action, and Mays Business School is honored to step up to serve our state and nation in this very important area,” said Eli Jones, dean of Mays Business School. “We will be connecting the curriculum with industry needs, and giving students a competitive advantage in an interdisciplinary way.”

Graham said the program is a way to bring more formal training in business concepts to petroleum engineers while they are students. He and Bahr credit their success to their mentor and initial investor, Professor Billy P. “Pete” Huddleston. “His influence is interwoven into all of it,” Bahr said. “A lot of the driving force behind why we’re doing this program is to continue and build upon the spark he put into a lot of his students within the petroleum engineering department and push that forward a little bit further.”


Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 6,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, business, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.


The college of engineering is the largest college on the Texas A&M campus and one of the largest engineering schools in the country with more than 550 faculty members and more than 15,000 students in 14 departments. The college is ranked seventh in engineering graduate programs and eight in undergraduate engineering programs among public institutions by U.S. News & World Report.