TO be ready for a career as a petroleum engineer, one needs to be equipped not only with strong technical skills, but also a willingness to form connections and develop soft skills.
At Asia Pacific University (APU), aspiring petroleum engineers have the opportunity to achieve such growth through its Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Student Chapter.
SPE Student Chapters around the world provide extracurricular training for petroleum engineers-to-be at the university level.
The primary goals of their activities are to complement the university’s petroleum engineering academic curriculum and to augment the students’ educational experience.
Established in February last year, the SPE APU Student Chapter was recently presented with the Student Chapter Excellence Award 2021 by SPE International, a non-profit professional association with more than 140,600 members in 144 countries engaged in oil and gas exploration and production.
The SPE APU Student Chapter was recognised for its efforts in technical knowledge dissemination, uplifting of society, community outreach and innovation.
Presented to only 20% of its student chapters around the world, the SPE award is the second-highest honour a student chapter may receive, the university said in a press release.
SPE APU Student Chapter president Abdallah El Badaoui said the student chapter has proven itself to be among the most active in Malaysia, despite the disruptions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our very first activity was a trip to Indonesia for a smart competition early last year, followed by a geological field trip, and a collaboration with other Malaysian student chapters for a major event: the SPE Malaysia Student Chapter Oil and Gas Convention,” said the third year Bachelor of Petroleum Engineering with Honours student.
He added that the society marked its first anniversary with “Saturday is for SPE”, a series of virtual events that saw its first international collaboration with SPE Imperial College, SPE IFP School and SPE University of Houston.
“The connections we made, the new skills we learnt and the exposure we had will impact our future paths. This award will motivate our student community to keep working hard and striving for excellence,” he said.
Engineering lecturer Harvin Kaur, who is also the SPE APU Student Chapter advisor, said a students’ peer group is the most important source to influence their academic and personal development.
“The development of a well-rounded individual can be achieved through in-class and out-of-class activities. The out-of-class activities help students understand the importance of critical thinking skills, time management, and academic and intellectual competence,” she said.
She added that working with diverse groups of individuals allows students to gain more self-confidence, autonomy, and appreciation for others’ differences and similarities.
Harvin, who used to work onshore and offshore as a production engineer for a petroleum operating company in Sabah, said it is imperative that petroleum engineers have strong teamwork skills and are passionate about building connections with others.
“They must be open-minded and resourceful, and can work under immense pressure while keeping their drive and enthusiasm,” she said.
Echoing her sentiments, Abdallah urged students to join professional organisations to build their professionalism.
“Be keen to learn and unlearn, and make connections. As the saying goes, your network is your net worth,” he said.