On May 7, Westside High School students that are part of the IPAA/PESA Energy Education Center’s Petroleum Academy program won second place at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) Energy Challenge competition. Team members for Westside are Yasin Hamed, Charles Loh, Breann Keana Magno, and Sean Smeds, all juniors and all part of the engineering program.
Westside was one of 18 schools participating in the Energy Challenge, including high schools from Houston ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Katy ISD, and several private schools. Each team was given a real world energy-related problem to solve; Westside’s challenge was to find a way to cost effectively capture and utilize energy from the ocean to power an offshore production platform. The students have been working since January with their coach, Mrs. Laurie Schlaudt, to prepare their problem solution.
The team had the assistance of two industry mentors: Mr. Bilen Ham, Vice President of Project Development for BP; and Mr. Paul Parsons, Managing Director and Instructor for Energy Training Resources, LLC. The students met with their mentors on several occasions and communicated via email to exchange ideas and suggestions. Mr. Ham provided the students access to models of various oil platforms and related tools, and assisted with a video session; Mr. Parsons worked with the team to create a digital model of their design. The students created an e-poster and a video describing their solution.
The team attended the Offshore Technology Conference on May 7 to present their poster and discuss their research with other teams, coaches, mentors, and judges. Dr. Wafik Beydoun, Chairman of the OTC Board of Directors, welcomed the students and gave the opening remarks for the competition. Attendees also were treated to a panel discussion, as guest speakers from BP discussed their careers and gave career advice to the students. Following the event, the team toured the exhibit floor of the OTC and saw the vast collection of company displays representing energy related businesses from all over the world.
Students received a glass trophy as well as a cash prize. This was the third year that Westside has competed in the OTC Energy Challenge, and the second year they have placed among the top three teams. Congratulations to our 2019 innovators!