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Two UH students take 1st place at SPWLA International Contest

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Stephen Greenwell
Two Cullen College of Engineering students studying Petroleum Engineering took home first place awards at the 61st annual SPWLA International contest. Makpal Sariyeva [left] won first place in the Oral Presentation Undergrad Category. Naveen Krishnaraj, a doctoral candidate, won first place in the Oral Presentation PhD Category.
Two Cullen College of Engineering students studying Petroleum Engineering took home first place awards at the 61st annual SPWLA International contest. Makpal Sariyeva [left] won first place in the Oral Presentation Undergrad Category. Naveen Krishnaraj, a doctoral candidate, won first place in the Oral Presentation PhD Category.
Naveen Krishnaraj, a doctoral candidate, won first place in the Oral Presentation PhD Category.
Naveen Krishnaraj, a doctoral candidate, won first place in the Oral Presentation PhD Category.
Makpal Sariyeva won first place in the Oral Presentation Undergrad Category.
Makpal Sariyeva won first place in the Oral Presentation Undergrad Category.

A pair of Petroleum Engineering students from the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering took home first place honors from the 61st annual Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts International Student Paper Contest this summer.

Naveen Krishnaraj, a doctoral candidate, won first place in the Oral Presentation PhD Category. Makpal Sariyeva won first place in the Oral Presentation Undergrad Category.

Krishnaraj specializes in the fields of Machine Learning, Inverse Problems, and Oil & Gas. He is interested in empowering society with data-driven insights and analytics. His vision is to apply curiosity and empathy to innovate and build products for the future.

His presentation was on his work on the Nuclear Magnetic resonance data processing using a Novel Blind Source Separation algorithm.

“Traditional inversion algorithms have limitations due to the smearing effect induced by the Euclidean norm,” he wrote in his abstract. “We have addressed this problem by developing a Machine Learning algorithm that performs a hybrid physics and data-driven approach.”

Krishnaraj wanted to thank the people that had supported him in his studies.

“I felt humbled,” he said about his feelings when he was notified of his first place finish. “I was filled with gratitude for my parents, Krishnaraj and Kanchana, as well as my mentors, Dr. Michael T. Myers and Dr. Lori Hathon of Petroleum Engineering, Dr. Alon Arad of ReadCoor and Dr. Victor Dunayevsky of Shell [retired], and of course, the support and sacrifices from my best friends.”

Sariyeva is a 2020 graduate of Petroleum Engineering. She is the President of Energy Coalition for the 2020-21 academic year, and she was the President of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Student Chapter for the 2019-20 academic year.

Sariyeva is an undergraduate research scholar with a strong interest in the Oil & Gas Industry, and a desire to contribute to developing solutions to its challenging problems. Her research on analyzing the performance between child and parent wells in the Eagle Ford basin won numerous awards within one semester.

“One of the complex challenges in the unconventional world is the performance of Child and Parent wells,” she wrote in her abstract. “This study compares and analyzes the performance of 239 Child and Parent wells in family units, and evaluates the impacts of well completion [fracturing] on well performance. The newly proposed analysis helps to categorize key well factors and highlight observed discrepancies of child wells' performance against the corresponding parent wells conducted on the traditionally employed evaluation method. Incorporating this analysis into machine learning models can assist in the drilling and completion planning of new child wells.”

She hopes to continue her personal and professional development while giving back to the community and impacting the growth of the University of Houston. She said she was delighted to win the award.

“When the time came to announce the winners, I was very nervous because of all the hard work I had put in, and the sleepless days and nights would replay in my head,” she said. “Once I saw my picture in the first place slot, I was exceedingly happy, not only because I had won, but also because I had won gold for the University of Houston.”

She added, “It seemed impossible when I had dreamt about it, however being determined and persevering through the competition made it possible. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed and supported this win including, my mentor Dr. Dimitrios G. Hatzignatiou from the Petroleum Engineering Department, Keith Rappold and Matias Chavez from Aramco, Rystad Energy company, as well as Lotanna Ohazuruike, Juan Luis Vaca, and Charles R. Adams from the University of Houston. In addition, this award means so much to me as they attest to my growing technical capabilities. I hope it encourages every student, minority and otherwise, that your dreams are valid and possible!”

Charles R. Adams, SPWLA President of the UH Chapter, contributed to this article.

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Two Cullen College of Engineering students studying Petroleum Engineering took home first place awards at the 61st annual SPWLA International contest. Makpal Sariyeva [left] won first place in the Oral Presentation Undergrad Category. Naveen Krishnaraj, a doctoral candidate, won first place in the Oral Presentation PhD Category.

A pair of Petroleum Engineering students from the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering took home first place honors from the 61st annual Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts International Student Paper Contest this summer.

Naveen Krishnaraj, a doctoral candidate, won first place in the Oral Presentation PhD Category. Makpal Sariyeva won first place in the Oral Presentation Undergrad Category.

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