VIDEO: World-Renowned Petroleum Engineering Expert, NAE Member Joins Cullen College Faculty


Audrey Grayson

World-renowned petroleum engineering expert, lecturer, researcher and NAE member J. J. Azar has joined the UH Cullen College of Engineering’s petroleum engineering program as a distinguished adjunct professor. Azar is the eighth NAE member to join the Cullen College of Engineering faculty in the past four years.

Previous to joining the UH Cullen College of Engineering, Azar served as professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Tulsa from 1975 to 2002, at which point he retired from the university to begin lecturing, consulting and teaching around the world. During his 27-year-long career at the University of Tulsa, Azar held the position of Director of Drilling Research Projects, a cooperative  program supported by the majority of major oil and gas companies worldwide as well as some service companies.  He has since become somewhat of a superstar in the world of petroleum engineering, specifically as it applies to drilling research.

Azar has authored and co-authored five textbooks and over 60 publications in referenced technical journals and has given over 100 presentations at technical meetings and professional functions.  He has contributed chapters for the SPE Petroleum Engineering Handbook, Volume II and the Encyclopedia of Energy.

Azar also served as a member of the Society of Professional Engineers (SPE) Education and Professionalism Technical Committee, an advisor for the SPE Student Chapter, a member of the SPE Career Guidance and Student Development Committee, a technical reviewer for the SPE Book Committee, a member of the D&C Technical Committee, a chairman and member of the “SPE Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum  Engineering Faculty,” a committee chairman and member of the “AIME Mineral Industry Education Award” and a member of Editorial Advisory Board of Offshore.

Azar was inducted into the prestigious National Academy of Engineering in 2004 and received the 1998 SPE Drilling Engineering Award and the 1997 SPE Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty. He is a registered professional engineer and SPE Distinguished Member. Dr. Azar received a B.S. and M.S in aerospace engineering, and a Ph.D. in mechanical/structural engineering, all from the University of Oklahoma.

As one of the world’s leading experts on petroleum engineering, Azar said the move to Houston – and to the University of Houston specifically – was the obvious next step to take in his career. “The University of Houston is located in a vital part of the oil patch,” Azar explained. “What [the university] will be doing for the petroleum industry in terms of getting bright students right in the local area is going to be tremendous, not only for the local oil and gas industry, but for the entire country and abroad.”

According to Azar, the city of Houston is and will remain to be global epicenter for the energy industry. “I would say Houston will remain the energy capital of the world. There’s no way they can lose to any city, anywhere. There’s no question.”

Azar hopes that by making the move to UH, he can help the Cullen College to achieve its goal of building the most influential and successful petroleum engineering program in the entire country.  “I am hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that with my 39 years of experience teaching…and being director of research for 25 years serving the oil and gas industry worldwide…that I have some element still in my blood that can contribute to the wellbeing of the Cullen College of Engineering.”

Regardless of what the future holds for the energy industry or Houston’s role therein, Azar says he knows one thing for sure: “The University of Houston is going to be a key player in providing exceptional students in petroleum engineering not only for our country, but for abroad. I’m very pleased and very happy to be associated with such a fine institution.”

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