Colorado School of Mines took first place in the Rocky Mountain section of the Imperial Barrel Award Program Competition, a contest where graduate students in geoscience evaluate a location for oil drilling, and will now join 11 other teams in the IBA 2017 Worldwide Competition.
|The 2017 Colorado School of Mines IBA team. Left to right: Lauren Bane, Brittany Abbuhl, Sebastian Cardona, Jacquelyn Daves, Matthew Huels.
More than 250 teams from over 50 countries around the world participate in the competition each year, organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, with one winner from each of the 12 AAPG sections being chosen. After their victory on March 4, 2017, the Mines team will travel to the AAPG’s Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston, Texas, for the international contest on April 1.
This year’s Mines team is unique in that it is interdisciplinary. It includes geology and geological engineering students Lauren Bane, Brittany Abbuhl, Sebastian Cardona and Matthew Huels and geophysics student Jacquelyn Daves. Geology and Geological Engineering Professor Steve Sonnenberg is the team’s advisor.
“This competition has exposed me to a side of petroleum geology that I would normally never see in academia,” said Abbuhl, who is working toward a master’s in geology. “The technical knowledge which came from working with a dataset from an initial, raw form to forming a cohesive professional presentation has drastically changed my understanding of what it means to work for a petroleum company.”
For the competition, teams are provided a dataset that includes information on geology, geophysics, land, production infrastructure and more. They then deliver their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts. The event provides students a unique opportunity to not only work with a real dataset, but also to impress potential employers and receive scholarship funds and international recognition. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Abbuhl said. The judges will select the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation.
Abbuhl notes that practicality is essential, and appreciates that the competition has increased her and her team’s awareness of the commercial aspect of the industry. “At the end of the day, a potential prospect can not only be a geologic success—it has to be an economic success too.”
“This is a great win for the Mines geoscience team,” said College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering Dean Ramona Graves. “Making it to the IBA finals is an achievement that shows the commitment, skills and academic excellence of both the students and the faculty.”
This is Mines' sixth time competing in the international competition, having placed third three times, including in 2016.
UPDATE: Upon competing in the international competition in April, the Mines team finished fourth.