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UL Lafayette students place second in global PetroBowl

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A team of University of Louisiana at Lafayette petroleum engineering students placed first in North America and second in the world in the international Petrobowl Championship held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates out of 125 universities from 37 different countries.

The competition pits members of Society of Petroleum Engineers student chapters against each other in a quiz bowl format. Participants must answer industry-related questions in a series of rapid-fire rounds.

UL Lafayette students – and members of the SPE Evangeline Student Chapter – who competed in Dubai last week are:

•  Stephen Au, a senior from San Marino, CA;
•  Benjamin Como, a senior from Broussard, LA;
•  Gordon Guillory, a senior from Sugartown, LA;
•  Nicholas Jarrett, a graduate student in geology from Tyler, TX; and
•  Brandon Salazar, a senior from Panama City, FL.

The chapter adviser is Dr. Abdennour Seibi, an associate professor of petroleum engineeering. The UL Lafayette team earned a $6,000 prize.

Au was the only member of the 2015 UL Lafayette team that earned the chance last year for UL Lafayette students to compete in the PetroBowl Championship at the 2016 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. The other 2015 members graduated or are attending graduate school at UL Lafayette.

Au said the team’s success “clearly validates the rigor of our petroleum engineering program. Besides the immense fame that the PetroBowl competition brings to the University, the PetroBowl competition enables industry professionals to easily notice UL Lafayette as a competitive petroleum engineering school.”

UL Lafayette teams had previously competed in PetroBowl Championships. In 2014, a University team was one of the top four teams in the world; in 2012, a UL Lafayette team was among the top eight teams in the world.

This was the first time that a UL Lafayette team reached the final game. To get there, it defeated teams from the University of Tulsa, the No. 1 seed who was favored to win; the 
University of Indonesia; Norwegian University of Science and Technology; and 
Pennsylvania State University.

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro took the last game in Dubai.

Au said the topics that teams were quizzed about ranged from drilling to production to reservoir engineering.

“Basically, anything that is remotely related to oil and gas was fair game, so the sheer number of possible questions makes predicting the competition very difficult. This year, they focused on technical questions, as opposed to trivia and history, which played into our hands, since we each specialized in a different area,” he said.

Au has participated in PetroBowl since he was a freshman. He competed in two regional qualifiers and two international competitions. “As the team captain, the former coach and I developed a rigorous curriculum that assisted us in achieving the results that we did. However, our team was well-balanced this year, so we trusted others in knowing material that we weren't responsible for. Because of the even distribution of study material, we were able to synergistically achieve much more,” he said.

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