Petroleum student organization offers opportunities for improvement and involvement

The Texas A&M University student chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (TAMU-SPE) is an organization with deep historic roots. From its inception as a petroleum engineering geology club in 1932, to its current chapter affiliation with SPE, the forward-thinking goals it fostered through the years prove how dedication to service and academic pursuits creates a positive future for student members.

The 2016-2017 academic year is no exception to this successful strategy. Through workshops, events and a mentoring program, TAMU-SPE hopes to hone its members’ skills and talents to increase their chances of landing jobs. The chapter also encourages outreach to Texas A&M and the community, where members help others and learn to help themselves in return.

2016 TAMU-SPE outstanding chapter award

Professional and technical skills

“TAMU-SPE is really the bridge between the classroom and the industry,” said Alex Lambros, current president of the Texas A&M chapter. “Our purpose is to enhance our students’ technical skills, enhance their professional skills and connect them with the industry. We want to absolutely complement what we’re learning in the classroom with what we’re willing to bring to the industry, to differentiate our students in the marketplace.”

TAMU-SPE started the year with a Resume Workshop that brought in so many students it went well past its allotted time. The students were able to use their new resumes during the Career Enhancement Event.

In one day, the Career Enhancement Event provided the opportunity for more than 500 petroleum engineering students to meet with 27 companies. Some businesses were new to the event — not the usual exploration and production companies — and exposed the future engineers to careers outside the box, but still involved with petroleum.

 2016 TAMU-SPE career enhancement event

“It’s not your typical career fair where students come in and talk to companies,” said Lambros. “The companies come in and educate our students on what they are offering and what’s unique about their company. We view it as very important that the student knows what the company is, what they believe in and what they offer before talking to a recruiter.”

The chapter hopes to provide a new soft skills workshop in the spring for its members. The workshop will involve writing professional emails and other communications, and offer tips on public speaking. Lambros stressed the need for the workshop, citing an online SPE international survey, which revealed these are two skills companies want from engineering students.

In addition, TAMU-SPE will continue to host Lunch and Learns each month, where companies with specific products or skills host a talk while students ask detailed questions.

Service to Texas A&M and the community

TAMU-SPE members provide assistance to ENGAGE, a program where high schools make arrangements with the Texas A&M University College of Engineering to have their juniors and seniors tour departments on campus. TAMU-SPE volunteers talk to these students about Texas A&M and guide them through a lab in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering.

TAMU-SPE members regularly participate in the Big Event, the largest one-day student-run service project in the nation. Students complete service projects such as yard work, window washing and painting, to show their appreciation to the surrounding community. The chapter also adopted a street in College Station this year, which it will clean up on a regular basis.

The TAMU-SPE members also support their fellow students and people worldwide through the Student Mentorship Program and service to a student organization called Build.

The Student Mentorship Program pairs 29 upper classmen with incoming students to guide them through internship and industry experiences.

"We all started somewhere and made some mistakes to get to where we are today,” said Kyle Soares, a TAMU-SPE member and director of the program. “More often than not we probably had someone help us along the way. The program allows mentors to give back to underclassmen by providing insight into what it really takes to get hired, from a student's perspective."

2016 TAMU-SPE Build volunteers

Build is a student organization that takes old decommissioned shipping containers and turns them into hospital clinics. The containers are then shipped to third-world countries for use.

 “The service comes in when actually converting these shipping containers to medical clinics,” Lambros said. “It takes weeks to do that, and what we’re going to do is send student groups to the Build location — hopefully we can help them with at least one container. 

“I haven’t found a student initiative on campus that I think is more incredible than this. I really am amazed by the logistics of everything. They have it all worked out and it’s great, especially for us, because [the petroleum industry] operates in some of these third-world countries and it’s important that we’re giving back to them.”

Outstanding Student Chapter

TAMU-SPE was recently named an Outstanding Student Chapter at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in September. This prestigious award recognizes student chapters with exceptional programs in industry engagement, operations and planning, community involvement, professional development and innovation. 

“I joined SPE because I thought it would be fun,” said Brian Redick, a graduate student in the department. "I discovered much more than camaraderie. In addition to top-tier instruction and research, Texas A&M petroleum engineering has a few things down better than anyone else. The program, in conjunction with TAMU-SPE, has built and maintains an incredible network of oil and gas professionals.

“I've experienced great professional growth and had many opportunities because of the department and Texas A&M’s vested interest in all students. Texas A&M petroleum engineering truly opens up a whole new world to each student."