ATCE Takes Amsterdam
Written By Assiya Suleimonova.
Assiya is currently a graduate student in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering and is the Marketing Board Chair for TAMU-SPE.
This year, SPE’s biggest yearly meeting, the Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE), was held outside of the United States for only the second time in the conference’s 90-year history. The conference, which took place in the picturesque and enchanting city of Amsterdam, located in the Netherlands, occurred on October 27-29 and served as an international hub to unite both aspiring students and oil and gas industry professionals. ATCE allows for an exchange of technical knowledge on a global scale with the usage of professional presentations, panel sessions, company exhibitions, extensive networking opportunities, workshops, and various other events. Other highlights of ATCE included the much-anticipated PetroBowl, the international level of the Student Paper Contest, recognition and commemoration of outstanding SPE members and Student chapters, and the transition from the current SPE President to the new President.
Just like every year, the TAMU-SPE Student Chapter was represented at the conference. However, in years past, large numbers of Aggies have been able to attend the conference due to its close proximity. In fact, last year, there was a record-breaking number of Aggies at the event that took place in New Orleans. Unfortunately, due to the extreme cost and logistics of an international conference, the number of attendees from Texas A&M was limited this year, just as it was at the 2010 ATCE event in Florence, Italy. This year’s Texas A&M student attendance was restricted to PetroBowl team members, the TAMU-SPE leadership team, and students able to pay their own way to attend the conference. Luckily, the cost of the conference was offset for both the leadership team and the students competing in PetroBowl by a generous sponsorship from BHP Billiton.
The trip quickly approached and preparations had to be made: passports and visas were ordered, plane tickets were booked, and hotels were reserved. ATCE polo shirts were designed and created which were worn during the PetroBowl competition to demonstrate Aggie Spirit. The PetroBowl team continued their diligent preparations for competition up until departure with the help of their coach, Masoud Alfi. When the big day arrived, final words of encouragement were spoken and bon voyage was wished to the group as they left for Houston for their departure to Amsterdam.
The team arrived in Amsterdam on Saturday in order to allow time for adjustment before the student events started on Sunday. The first part of the conference, the Student Meet-and-Greet Social is traditionally held the morning before the start of the actual conference so that students from all over the world can get a chance to network and interact with each other. The gathering was followed by an Awards Luncheon honoring the “Outstanding Student Chapter”, scholarship and fellowship recipients, and Regional Student Paper Contest winners. Texas A&M’s very own Masoud Alfi, who received the Star Scholarship, Junjing Zhang, and Ryan Rice, both of whom won the Gulf Coast North American Regional Student Paper Contests, were honored. On Sunday, an all-day leadership workshop was held, where SPE section and student chapter leaders were brought together to develop leadership skills and share lessons learned. TAMU-SPE officers attended this workshop where they shared their experiences and challenges.
On Monday, the conference officially started and the 13th PetroBowl was held. Texas A&M was represented by the captain, Raul Gonzalez, Ritthy Son, Andrew Weldon, Tanner Wachsman, and alternates Kevin Wiggs and Gabriel Siegel. The team defeated The University of Stavanger and The University of Texas in a close battle to make it to the quarterfinals where the team eventually succumbed to the University of Tulsa who went on to win the competition. Monday also consisted of a general session on affordable energy with a panel discussing how the industry, governments, and general public can work together to meet the world’s growing energy demand. The North American Regional Officer Meeting was also hosted where the TAMU officers represented the Student Chapter in discussing the current practices and needs with North America sections boards and professional members from students’ prospective.
Tuesday opened with Undergraduate and Master’s divisions of the International Student Paper Contest. Texas A&M’s own Ryan Rice received third place in the undergraduate section. Later in the afternoon, Junjing Zhang won the PhD division. On Tuesday evening, the Annual Awards Banquet occurred to honor recipients for their outstanding contributions. Five faculty members of The Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering received awards: Dr. A. Daniel Hill, Dr. Thomas Blasingame, Dr. I. Yucel Akkutlu, Dr. David Burnett, and Dr. David Schechter.
In parallel with other events, technical presentations occurred on all three days of the conferences. In all, 425 papers were presented during 45 technical sessions, which addressed six disciplines. This year’s conference focus shifted from unconventional production in North America to sustainability and affordability of energy. A special sustainability session was held where practices to balance economic growth, social development, and environmental protection were discussed. In addition, attendees had the opportunity to visit the exhibition floor to learn about the latest technologies and products in the industry. The exhibition floor, covering more than 100,000 square feet and representing more than 300 companies, gave incredible networking opportunities for students to interact with industry professionals.
With the conference concluding mid-day on Wednesday, ATCE attendees were provided with the unique opportunity to explore the beautiful and historic city of Amsterdam. Despite the city’s reputation for its coffee shops and Red Light District, the city has a unique history spanning nine centuries. Amsterdam is home to more museums per square foot than any other city in the world. Texas A&M students were able to attend the Rijksmuseum—which hosts an incredible collection from the Dutch Golden Age including Rembrandt’s masterpiece, The Night Watch. In addition, students were able to walk around Amsterdam, or “The Venice of the North”, known as such for its concentric rings of canals. The beauty of this city is remarkable. The scenic 17th century canals with houseboats, charming cafes, beautiful houses, and colorful street markets make for a scene out of a fairy-tale. One of Amsterdam’s most defining characteristics is the numerous bicycles in use by the city’s population – rather than cars. It is near impossible to walk more than a block without hearing the bell of an oncoming bike looking to avoid collision with pedestrians. Special bike lanes allow for safe travel of bikes, essential to bike travel because many bikes contain baskets to carry children. Overall, the entire atmosphere of Amsterdam was so enticing with all of the locals being extremely friendly. It was a true joy to get to share in the city’s unique experience.
Because ATCE was in The Netherlands rather than the United States, it was an opportunity to experience SPE’s global impact—and visit one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. While next year’s conference will be hosted in Houston, ATCE16 will be in Dubai! The Texas A&M Student Chapter is looking forward to reconnecting with industry professionals from around the world and discovering another city and culture.