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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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Society of Petroleum Engineers Picks Three of the Best from Cullen College

By: 

Laurie Fickman
Three outstanding UH professors win international awards
Three outstanding UH professors win international awards

Each year, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), an international society with more than 168,000 members, recognizes the best of the best in its international awards program.

This year, three Cullen College faculty members were honored for their professional and technical excellence, career achievements, service to colleagues, industry leadership and public service.

Ali A. Daneshy, Adjunct Instructor

The SPE chose Ali A. Daneshy, petroleum engineering adjunct instructor, for an Honorary Membership Award, the highest honor presented by the society. According to the SPE, the elite distinction, limited to 0.1 percent of the SPE membership, is comprised of “individuals who have given outstanding service to SPE or have demonstrated distinguished scientific or engineering achievements in the fields within the technical scope of SPE.”

Daneshy is an active member of SPE and has volunteered for, and led, many of its professional activities. Despite his hard work, he credits his colleagues and friends with helping him attain the high honor.

“None of us can accomplish much alone,” said Daneshi. “Our accomplishments reflect the collective knowledge and contributions of the people we work with. I have been blessed with very capable and smart friends who have helped me reach my goals.”

His colleagues feel the same about him, crediting his efforts with creating the petroleum engineering department at UH.

“Daneshy is the one that put together and shepherded through approval the undergraduate petroleum engineering degree. It was his vision,” said Christine Ehlig-Economides, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair of petroleum engineering.

Daneshy has been an adjunct faculty member at UH since 2002. Since 1999 he has served as president of Daneshy Consultants Int’l. With operational experience covering most of the global oil and gas fields, the company’s goal is to enhance reservoir performance by using the latest technologies in the industry.

Daneshy’s expertise includes well completion and hydraulic fracturing, geomechanics, intelligent completions, interface control applications and design, and water control.

He has published over 50 technical papers in SPE publications and is currently founder and executive editor of the Hydraulic Fracturing Quarterly, a technical journal dedicated to hydraulic fracturing technology.

Christine Ehlig-Economides, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair

SPE awarded the John Franklin Carll Award to world-renowned petroleum engineer Christine Ehlig-Economides. She is an eminent expert in reservoir engineering, pressure transient analysis, integrated reservoir characterization, complex well design and production enhancement.

A proven trailblazer, Economides was the first American woman to earn a Ph.D. in petroleum engineering when she obtained her doctorate from Stanford University in 1979.

Now she is the first woman to receive this award from SPE.

“It’s significant,” Ehlig-Economides said modestly. “Perhaps this recognition is to highlight that I have been visible all this time in an industry that in the beginning of my career was very male dominated and is far less so today.”

She’s survived in the field over the past four decades with a great deal of brilliance and a good ability to laugh.

“It’s been fun and you have to have a sense of humor. For many years, maybe half of my career, I would step into a room where I was going to be the only woman and often presumed to be something other than an engineer,” she said.

When you are so rare, it happens a lot.

She is as passionate about petroleum engineering as ever. She describes a current project with excitement, and with good reason. She may soon change the world view of shale and hydraulic fracturing.

“I am chairing a task force that is partly sponsored by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas (TAMEST) to write a report titled ‘Environmental and Community Impacts of Shale Development in Texas.’” TAMEST endorsed the project, at the behest of Ehlig-Economides, and it is co-sponsored by The Mitchell Foundation. She is also pioneering a trail for TAMEST, as this is the first statewide scholarly study they are sponsoring.

“As petroleum engineers, one of the things we know, but don’t successfully convey to the general public, is that hydraulic fracturing on its own is not creating environmental issues that have been attached to it,” said Ehlig-Economides. “Our goal is to report and evaluate what we know because Texas did not stand in the way. There are whole states that have outlawed fracturing, but Texas did not.”

Because of the state’s willingness, she and her team can evaluate the shale plays in Texas in six directions: social and economic, air, land, water, seismicity and transportation and record for history what is happening today.

The John Franklin Carll Award recognizes distinguished contributions applying engineering principles to petroleum development and recovery. Recipients of the award automatically become Distinguished Members of the SPE.

The award is named after a pioneer in petroleum engineering, John Franklin Carll. More than a century ago, he articulated the principles of petroleum engineering and geology that established the basic framework for development of petroleum engineering technology.

Now Ehlig-Economides is doing the same for the next century.

Robello Samuel, Adjunct Professor

The SPA honored Robello Samuel, Ph.D., petroleum engineering adjunct professor with two awards, the SPE Drilling Engineering Award for outstanding contributions to the advancement of petroleum engineering and a Distinguished Membership award. The membership award recognizes only 1 percent of SPE members “who have attained eminence in the petroleum industry or the academic community, or who have made significant contributions to SPE.”

Samuel believes the SPE provides opportunities not otherwise available in the industry, giving him the chance to disseminate and exchange technical information and teach and train a new generation of engineers. His proudest accomplishment in that regard is convincing his own two children to become drilling engineers.

And how did he convince them? By teaching them the same way he instructs his students – creatively.

“We need to think outside of the box, always,” Samuel said. “But first, you need to know what your frame of reference is. If you are outside the box, there is no point in thinking outside the box; as you don’t know what is inside to start with. So you need to know the fundamentals and basics so that you can get out of the box.”

Since 1998, Samuel has served as a chief technical advisor and Halliburton Technology Fellow at Halliburton. He possesses more than 31 years of multi-disciplinary experience in domestic and international oil and gas drilling operations, as well as significant expertise in consulting and teaching.

Starting from the ground up, Samuel began his career working on rigs as a field drilling engineer. He is now a speaker in great demand globally and has written 12 books on drilling.

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