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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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Lee Named Gulf Coast SPE Engineer of the Year

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Toby Weber

John Lee has one more plaque to hang on the wall.

Lee, Professor and Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair in the college’s Petroleum Engineering Department, was already one of the most decorated faculty members in the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering. Last month, he received another honor: the Gulf Coast Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers named Lee its 2013 Engineer of the Year. The honor recognizes overall career excellence, service to the field of petroleum engineering and civic contributions. Lee excels in all three areas.

A specialist in reservoir engineering, Lee is widely recognized as one of the world’s top experts in unconventional oil and gas resources. He has served as an SPE Distinguished Lecturer on this topic on three occasions and in 1993 was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, with a citation for his work in unconventional resources.

In addition to his technical expertise, Lee is a committed educator. He has written three textbooks on reservoir engineering, all published by the SPE, all still in print and all on the society’s best-seller list. He helped developed a successful continuing education program at Mississippi State University, his first stop in academia, and received multiple teaching awards during a subsequent 34-year career at Texas A&M University. In 2011, this commitment to education spurred him to join the Cullen College and help build its new undergraduate petroleum engineering program, which now boasts an enrollment of nearly 500.

Lee has also put his skills and expertise to use in the civic arena. He has served on two National Research Council committees, one involving nuclear waste storage and anther on helium reserves. And from 2007 to 2008 he served as an Academic Engineering Fellow with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington D.C., where he helped modernize the rules that govern how businesses that raise money in U.S. Securities markets report their oil and gas reserves. This work led to Lee winning the SEC’s Law and Policy Award in 2009.

“I’m very grateful for this honor,” he said. “With almost 17,000 members, the Gulf Coast section of the SPE is the society’s largest section, which makes this award even more significant to me. I’ve been active in the SPE throughout my career, and it’s gratifying to have the organization recognize my work.”

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