Student Organization Spotlight: Society of Petroleum Engineers

LSU’s Society of Petroleum Engineers is the College’s Most Engaged Student Organization. The College created the contest to increase engagement between student organizations and further promote their activities. SPE was able to garner a whopping 550 points in the contest through targeted and effective programming and social media promotion.

“This competition challenged our organization to create more events and just be on the look out more for things we could involve ourselves in on campus, like Finals Fuel and the Student Involvement Fair,” said Taylor White, a petroleum engineering junior who was recently elected as president of the organization for the upcoming academic year.

At its peak active enrollment, SPE has more than 600 active members, and holds five to seven meetings per semester, many of which are sponsored by industry professionals. Over the past academic year, SPE has hosted Weatherford International, Chesapeake Energy and Annadarko.

“Sometimes they talk about ethics and tips for navigating the industry,” White said. “How to be a good employee, how to get promoted, and what it’s like to own a private company. They share the struggles of owning a private company in such a large industry.”

While the national chapters of SPE focus on technical presentations and exhibits, White explained that, as a student chapter, they focus more on providing opportunities for students to network and build leadership skills for its student members.

LSU’s SPE also holds social events, like a recent tour of Tin Roof Brewing Company.

“We do the social stuff to just provide our members with an opportunity to step away from all school, all the time,” White said. “We love going to Area 51, the trampoline house. We actually hosted our mentorship program there last fall because everyone enjoyed it so much.”

SPE teamed up with Chevron this year to create the Chevron Mentorship Program. The internal mentorship program started with 15 upperclassmen mentors paired with 30 to 40 younger mentees. They exchanged contact information and acted as guides for younger students to navigate engineering and adjusting to college.

“We host specific meetings just for the mentorship program, where students are able to check in with each other and figure out scheduling for upcoming semesters,” White said. “Of course, some of the relationships fizzled out, but I would say that most of them stayed strong throughout the year.”

In the upcoming year, White plans to extend the reach of the Chevron Mentorship Program outside of the organization by “reaching out to kids early on.” White said they have already reached out to a number of students through LSU’s Spring Invitational (SPIN) at the end of March.

“I remember when I first started here, for like the first two weeks, I would finish class and just go back and sit in my dorm room. I was going to sleep at 6 o’clock,” White said with a laugh. “Because I just had nothing to do!”

White said they received contact information from more than 40 prospective students at SPIN and shared with them the benefits of joining SPE and information about the organization’s activities throughout the year.

SPE has also invited LSU’s American Association of Drilling Engineers to collaborate in the fall to host a Welcome Day, specifically for the students that they encountered during SPIN.

“We’re just going to plan for fun activities, maybe even outside, just for everyone to get to know each other,” White said. “We also plan to use that day to introduce them to potential mentors for the academic year.”

White said they ultimately plan to create a pipeline, or “thread,” of mentor and mentee relationships because local industry representatives have expressed interest in becoming a part of the program. She said they would pair freshmen with upperclassmen and upperclassmen with volunteers from the community.

“We really want to keep the program going,” White said. “By bringing in those people from industry and starting the mentorship relationships on day one, we hope to sustain it for a long time.”

In addition to strengthening their relationship with the College and community, White intends to increase SPE’s conference presence and host SPE’s annual Student Symposium in New Orleans.

“Last year it was in Texas, and we were only able to send 15 students, but if we were to host it, we could send 100 of our members,” White said.

LSU’s SPE also attends an SPE National conference, Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) each year. Last year, it was in Houston. This year it will be in Dubai.

“At first, we said we couldn’t do it. We’re talking about an international trip, plane tickets and all of that,” White said. “But we sat down together, me and the other upcoming officers, and I said, ‘Look. I’m going to challenge you. I think we go to Dubai.’ And I’ve been so impressed because they agreed, and we came up with a plan of choosing 15 total SPE members to go to Dubai.”

White said they plan to fundraise to pull off the trip, and she’s confident they’ll find success.

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For more information, contact communications assistant M.B. Humphrey at marissah@lsu.edu.