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Changing the Game
Petroleum Engineering Alum Named as One of TWA’s Energy Influencers

By Stephen Greenwell

Pushpesh Sharma
Pushpesh Sharma

Dr. Pushpesh Sharma, a May 2019 graduate from the University of Houston's chemical engineering and petroleum engineering programs, has earned distinction for his work as a doctoral student and with the start-up Inveniam Asset Management by being named one of The Way Ahead's 2020 Energy Influencers.

Dating back to 2005, TWA is a publication of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, with content generated and sourced by TWA volunteers, SPE staff and guest authors. According to its website, the publication is written by and for young professionals in the upstream oil and gas industry.

Sharma said he was nominated by Vikrant Lakhanpal, a fellow UH Petroleum Engineering student that he took classes with in 2016. He was notified that he was chosen in April.

“The nominations were coming from all over the world, so I wasn't expecting to be nominated and I was very surprised,” Sharma said. “I'm really glad and I'm humbled. I wasn't really expecting it. It's an impressive collection of people working in industry, at big companies, and I kind of felt like I wasn't suited to be in that group of people. It's very humbling.”

According to TWA's write-up for why Sharma was chosen, the publication noted that he was the first graduate student to join the subsurface research laboratory under Dr. Konstantinos Kostarelos at the UH Technology Bridge and helped develop the laboratory facilities. His dissertation work on a novel non-thermal heavy oil recovery process provided a green and sustainable alternative to thermal processes and is now a part of a patent application.

Sharma said that Kostarelos was an important mentor during his time as a student, and even after graduation, they've remained in touch.

“He helped me a lot along the way,” Sharma said of Kostarelos. “He was and still is very supportive of my work and gave me freedom to research without micromanaging. I want to thank him for his constant help and motivation.”

Sharma pointed to his work on the Downstream Resilience Innovation Challenge 2018 as something he was proud of during his time at UH. His group won the first prize for their proposal and business plan.

“The project was how to come up with methods to make downstream energy more resilient,” he said. “Our group was in the middle of that project. It was an interdisciplinary project with the Law Center, chemical, mechanical, subsea and industrial engineering departments. It was interesting to work on that, especially with the Law School's involvement. We learned a lot.”

Sharma currently works at Inveniam Asset Management, in data analytics. He noted that it was another start-up, similar to how he joined UH's program when it was in the build-up phase.

“What we're trying to do right now is see how you evaluate energy companies,” he said. “Currently, a lot of people look at their financial statements and what the company is doing there, and not what's happening in the field. We collect data about what's actually happening.”

Sharma said he got the opportunity by working with people while at UH, which was his goal when he enrolled.

“Houston is the energy capital of the world, so I was always interested,” he said. “Before here, I was working downstream in the oil industry in India … Joining UH and the Houston area, it provided me with so many connections. I was connected to people in chemical engineering and petroleum engineering.” 

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