Petroleum Engineering Faculty, Alumni Shine at 2017 SPE ATCE

| November 2, 2017

USC Viterbi professors and alumni receive several SPE International Awards at the annual conference for the Society of Petroleum Engineers

From L: Research Professor Donald Paul, Professor Iraj Ershaghi and Research Professor Don Zhang Photo credit/Michelle Henry

Faculty and alumni from the Petroleum Engineering (PTE) Program in the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science were honored with several SPE International Awards from the 2017 Society of Petroleum Engineers Annual Technical Conference (SPE ATCE) on October 9-11 in San Antonio, Texas.

Among those honored were Professor Iraj Ershaghi with a Legion of Honor Award, Research Professor Donald Paul with a Distinguished Member Award, and Research Professor Don Zhang with an Honorary Member Award.

Iraj Ershaghi

Ershaghi, the Omar B. Milligan Chair in Petroleum Engineering and executive director of the Center for Interactive Smart Oilfield Technologies (CiSoft), was inducted into the SPE Legion of Honor. The accolade recognizes individuals with 50 years of continuous SPE membership.

His numerous SPE Awards in the past include:

  • 2012 SPE Honorary member
  • 2010 SPE John Franklin Carll Award
  • 2007 SPE Regional Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award
  • 2006 SPE Technology Transfer Award for Development of the Smart Oilfield Technology Curriculum
  • 1996 SPE Distinguished Member Award
  • 1983 SPE Distinguished Faculty Award

Ershaghi, also a National Academy of Engineering (NAE) member, serves as current director for the USC Viterbi Petroleum Engineering Program.

USC PTE has been responsive to the needs of the industry and is among the leading teaching and research institutions in these areas.Professor Iraj Ershaghi

“There are new directions evolving in petroleum engineering education like petroleum informatics, coupled geotechnical and multi-phase flow, advanced reservoir forecasting, and subsurface imaging,” Ershaghi said. “USC PTE has been responsive to the needs of the industry and is among the leading teaching and research institutions in these areas.”

Donald Paul

Paul, the William M. Keck Chair in Energy Resources, executive director of the USC Energy Institute (USCEI), and board member of the USC Viterbi’s Board of Councilors was recognized with SPE Distinguished Membership. The award recognizes those who have made significant technical and professional contributions to the industry, and those who have contributed exceptional service and leadership to society.

Paul retired from Chevron Corporation in 2008 where he served as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. USC’s CiSoft was started in part of a larger strategic initiative Paul had while at Chevron, which was to develop more comprehensive and strategic relationships with major universities.

“After retiring from Chevron, I wanted to continue to be involved in advancing both the education and research agenda for universities,” Paul said. “The fact that we have continued to evolve the PTE research program at USC, I feel good about being able to contribute directly from the other side.”

Don Zhang

Zhang, a USC research professor who is currently serving as the Dean of Engineering at Peking University, took home an Honorary Member Award, which is given to individuals for outstanding service to SPE and/or distinguished scientific or engineering achievement in fields encompassed in SPE’s technical scope. He is also a member of the NAE.

Zhang’s previous SPE honors include a 2006 SPE Journal Outstanding Technical Editor Award and a 2007 SPE Journal Outstanding Review Chair Award.

“Uncertainty quantification is among the areas of my research,” Zhang said. “That is addressing the new ways the industry is looking at forecasting.”

PTE Alumni Awards

In addition, several alumni of the PTE program were recognized with major awards:

Nabeel Al-Afaleg Ph.D. PTE ’96 (Currently Chief Petroleum Engineer ARAMCO) – Distinguished Member Award

Mukul Sharma Ph.D. PTE ’85 (Currently a professor at UT Austin) – John Franklin Carll Award

Tayfun Babadagli MS PTE ’88 PhD PTE’92 (Currently a professor at University of Alberta, Canada) – International Reservoir Description and Dynamics Awards

About SPE’s 2017 International Awards

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Annual Reception and Banquet recognizes those who have made significant technical and professional contributions to the industry, and those who have contributed exceptional service and leadership to the society. The banquet took place during the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) on Tuesday, October 10 from 6:30–10:00 pm at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas, USA.