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thirteen people dressed in nice attire stand on a stage while holding certificates, framed awards and large posters with award amounts on them
Current and former Texas A&M University petroleum engineering students stand with the 2024 Society of Petroleum Engineers president Terry Palisch (fifth from left) while showing off the numerous awards and recognition they received. | Image: Courtesy of Kassem Alokla

Two faculty members and several students in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University received awards during the 2023 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) held October 16-18 in San Antonio, Texas.

Faculty awards

Dr. I. Yucel Akkutlu, professor and John Edgar Hold ’27 Chair, received the SPE Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes Akkutlu’s exceptional service to SPE, including his time as both associate and executive editor of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal, contributing nearly 100 technical articles in SPE publications, and teaching and performing academic research with students across the educational spectrum.

Dr. Iskander Diyashev, professor of engineering practice, was given the SPE Distinguished Member Award. Distinguished Members achieve distinction by attaining “eminence in the petroleum industry or the academic world” and their regional section or the entire society.

Student Paper Contest

Texas A&M students placed highly in all levels of the International Student Paper Contest, held during the ATCE.

Senior John (J.P.) Jones, who took first place in the senior level of the local contest and the bachelor’s level at the regional contest, won first place in the bachelor’s level at the international competition.

Carrie Sistrunk, who took first place in the master's level at the local and regional contests, won first place in the master's level at the international competition. Sistrunk, a recent graduate,  won first place in the senior or bachelor levels at all three competitions last year.

Aishwarya Srinivasan, who took second place in the local contest and first place in the regional contest doctoral levels, won second place in the international contest doctoral level.

Texas A&M Student Chapter

The Texas A&M University student chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (TAMU-SPE) has changed names a few times in the last 90 years. Still, it has always been an outstanding representation of the petroleum engineering students at Texas A&M.

This year, TAMU-SPE received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Chapter. The students also received the Diversity and Inclusion Champion Chapter of the Year. Kassem Alokla, the current president of TAMU-SPE, and several other officers and members of TAMU-SPE were on hand to receive the awards for the chapter.


Texas A&M took fourth place in the international PetroBowl at the ATCE. PetroBowl pits SPE student chapter teams against each other in rapid rounds of competition featuring asked and answered questions on technical and nontechnical industry-related material. The contest has gained popularity through the years, with chapters vying hard for top spots regionally to make it into the 32 open slots in the international competition.