5 Aug 2021

APU Coaches and Develops Well-rounded Petroleum Engineers

As long as oil and gas remain an important part of the energy mix, the world will need petroleum engineers for exploration, extracting and processing crude oil and natural gas.

But what does a petroleum engineer really do? And what qualities and traits should they ideally have? We explore this and more.

The work of a petroleum engineer

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As sources of oil and gas can be located anywhere in the world, travel and relocation to foreign countries is common for petroleum engineers. You’ll also find them onsite for months at a time, working on gruelling 84-hour rotations and shifts.

A typical day for a petroleum engineer can be exciting and challenging. This includes working on grounds; maintaining records of drilling and production operations; coordinating the installation, maintenance and operation of mining and oil field equipment; developing plans for oil and gas field drilling; and executing product recovery and treatment.

Successful traits of a petroleum engineer

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While the tasks of a petroleum engineer may appear to be technical, a myriad of other skills are required to ensure that the whole operation runs smoothly.

“Naturally and inevitably, they must have strong teamwork skills and be passionate to build a connection with people; open-minded and resourceful with problem-solving skills; and can work under immense pressure whilst keeping their drive and enthusiasm,” said Ts Harvin Kaur, a Chartered Mechanical Engineer. A lecturer at Asia Pacific University (APU), he transforms APU students into industry professionals through his industry experience and real-world knowledge.

Similar sentiment is also shared by Abdallah El Badaoui, Year 3 petroleum engineering student. “You have to be open-minded, always challenge your perspective and have a great attitude. Before stepping into the real world just like any other field, you need to be passionate about what you are doing, be keen to learn and unlearn, make connections, as the saying goes — your network is your net worth,” said Abdallah, adding that joining a professional organisation while studying is important to prepare yourself.

Uplifting the community through the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)

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It is imperative that petroleum engineering students develop skills specific to their career path. One of the ways is to participate in the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Student Chapter that organises activities to develop soft skills, leadership skills and teamwork skills — all of which are highly sought after by employers in the oil and gas industry.

The SPE Student Chapter at APU has achieved many milestones despite being in its first year of operation amidst a global pandemic.

“We have proved to be amongst the most active student chapters in Malaysia. Our very first activity was a trip to Indonesia for a smart competition early last year, followed by a geological field trip, and a collaboration with fellow Malaysian student chapters for a major event — SPE Malaysia Student Chapter Oil and Gas Convention,” said Abdallah, President of the SPE Student Chapter at APU.

The society had even organised an iconic event — a 5-Saturday virtual event series that saw the first international collaboration with SPE Imperial College, SPE IFP School and SPE University of Houston. The event saw participation from 33 countries, 60 universities, 40 SPE Student Chapters, 11 speakers and more than 200 attendees with over 3,000 views and 4,000 online interactions.

With its active involvement throughout the year, it’s no wonder that the members of the SPE APU were awarded the Student Chapter Excellence Award 2021, a prestigious recognition that is only awarded to 20% of student chapters globally.

“This is a recognition of our team’s effort, it is not about the product, but the process. All the work we had done was rewarding by itself, the connections we made, the new skills learned and the exposure we had will impact our future path,” opined Abdallah.

Going beyond academic training and extracurricular activities

A well-rounded professional engineer isn’t just developed on the back of academic training and extracurricular activities.

APU strives to provide the best to their students through strong Industry-Academia partnerships with international bodies. Collaborations with Petroleum Experts Limited, UK (PETEX) and Rock Flow Dynamics Ltd, USA (RFD) who provide industrial software are also helpful for student learning and research purposes, such as during their Field Development Projects and Final Year Projects.

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