Lamar Students Competing In Fuel Exploration Event

January 8, 2010

Teams of students from Lamar High School will each get $200 million this weekend and will be set loose to explore remote islands for oil and gas reserves. There’s only one catch — It’s all a computer simulation.

But there will be real prize money involved for the teams that successfully locate simulated oil reserves at the end of PetroChallenge 2010, an event at the University of Houston’s College of Technology. On Jan. 9 and 10, about 100 sophomores from Lamar High School will compete, divided into teams of four students.

“They just learn so much. It’s an incredibly intense learning situation,” said Patricia Price, assistant principal for Lamar’s magnet and International Baccalaureate programs. “It’s exactly like what you do in the real world if you’re looking for oil.”

According to a University of Houston statement, each student team forms a petroleum exploration company sent on a virtual mission to remote islands that have invited companies to begin exploration. The teams each have a $200 million budget to find commercially viable volumes of oil and gas. They learn basic geology and form strategic partnerships with other teams to drill exploration and appraisal wells. The students will face the challenges, opportunities and dilemmas of a real exploration team.

The Lamar students are uniquely qualified for the competition because they attend the Lamar Global Energy Management Institute. Price said that since their freshman years, the students have toured energy companies and museums, been visited by high-level guest speakers from oil and gas companies, participated in energy-related competitions and completed research projects focused on the industry.

“These kids have already had a lot of experience, so they know they have a good background for this exercise,” Price said.

Lamar High School was invited to compete in PetroChallenge because it is one of three Houston-area energy academy schools associated with the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Students from Milby High School and Westside Engineering and Geosciences Academy will also participate. Similarly, the university level PetroChallenge teams competing from Jan. 11 to 12 will be comprised of students from different colleges, each discipline bringing its particular strengths to the exercise.

Simprentis, the software company that developed the program, saw a demand for industry-based educational events that would allow students to explore potential careers. PetroChallenge events have been held since 2004, when 600 students from Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Scotland participated simultaneously.

“It’s kind of like a real-life situation, and it’s very, very exciting to participate in,” Price said. “I had a blast when I got to do it.”

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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