Activities & Organizations

Field trip puts STEM students to the test

The winning teams on Pulpit Rock - Norway

In Norway, the past Ultimate Field Trip winning teams hiked to the top of Pulpit Rock, 600 meters above the Lysefjord.  | Courtesy of Victoria Turek

UH has been declared one of 12 universities in the U.S. to take part in BP’s 2014 Ultimate Field Trip competition for STEM students.

“The Ultimate Field Trip is a two-week global experience with BP. Through a case competition, a winning team is selected from each participating country to engage in the global experience,” said Aimee Close, U.S. University Relations Projects and Programs Manager at BP.

The 12 universities competing include UH, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkley, the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and Georgia Technical University, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University, Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Michigan, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin.

“Each participating university will host a campus competition. The winners will go on to represent their university at the national finals in Houston, and the U.S. champions will win a place on to the Ultimate Field Trip. In 2014, the winning team will go on to explore our operations in Illinois and Alaska alongside the winning teams from the U.K., Angola, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago,” Close said.

This is the fifth year for BP’s Ultimate Field Trip, but the first year to include more than five universities.

“Each year we are looking at ways to develop the competition to ensure that the students have the opportunity to gain a truly meaningful experience from taking part. We are really excited by this year’s competition, with five countries now involved, more universities in the U.S. and a fantastic challenge; it will be great to see what ideas the teams do with this year’s challenge,” Close said.

This year’s challenge asks students to identify an innovative solution to reducing energy consumption to be implemented by 2025.

“BP developed the Ultimate Field Trip competition to attract and retain top talent beginning in the early years of higher education. The energy sector needs to do more to engage with tomorrow’s generation of talent, and BP is tackling the challenge head-on. The UFT offers BP the chance to engage and interact with students, allowing us to provide them with insight and experience of working on real life challenges within the energy sector,” Close said.

Paul McIntyre, group head of resourcing at BP, sees the Ultimate Field Trip competition as a chance for students to get real-world experience.

“The Ultimate Field Trip competition offers STEM students the opportunity to explore how their degrees apply in a real-world situation. Each year, we are looking at ways to develop the competition to ensure that the students have the opportunity to gain a truly meaningful experience from taking part,” McIntyre said.

The 2013 winning team was Hybrid Alternative Power Systems of the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

“It was really great to go out and see everything in the real field,” said Michael Richards of Hybrid Alternative Power Systems, a sophomore at the time he competed.

“We were able to travel by tanks, which hold 600,000 barrels of oil, and we also saw fire truck demos that were part of the safety set up that they have at the facility. We saw the water cannon in action, which shot out 50,000 liters per minute. We also got to see the jetty and huge equipment where crew tankers will unload the shipments, as well as the control room and facility. We talked to a lot of different engineers at the site. It was fantastic learning about these roles.”

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