Academics & Research

Students represent UH in national energy competition

UH _ Joules of Science

Ysabelle Abraham, majoring in geology; Heba Hijazi, majoring in biomedical engineering; and Nora Elghetany, majoring in chemical engineering, make up The Joules of Science, the only all-female team to advance to the final round in BP’s 2014 Ultimate Field Trip Challenge. | Courtesy of BP

A team of three UH students will compete Thursday in the national finals of BP’s Ultimate Field Trip competition, which asks college students in technical fields from leading U.S. universities to solve real-world energy challenges.

“We were extremely impressed by the entries from the University of Houston, but ultimately team The Joules of Science (with UH students Ysabelle Abraham, Nora Elghetany and Heba Hijazi) was chosen because of its creativity and demonstrated knowledge of critical areas,” said Khymberly Booth, BP’s director of U.S. university relations, in a statement.

“The UFT (Ultimate Field Trip) competition is just one example of BP’s commitment to higher education and to developing the next generation of scientists and engineers to take on the world’s biggest energy challenges.”

The UH team, The Joules of Science, will compete against contestants from Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, University of Michigan and the University of Texas at Austin, said Chris Milliken, USUR project manager at BP.

The 2014 challenge asked students to identify an innovative solution that would significantly reduce energy consumption and could be implemented by 2025, with the potential to be deployed at scale across the energy industry.

“If chosen as the grand prize winners for the U.S., the team will join winners from the four other participating countries — Angola, Canada, United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago — on a two-week field trip to BP locations in Alaska and Chicago,” Milliken said.

“During the field trip, members of the winning team will work on a real project upon which business decisions will be made, experience the range of operations in BP’s businesses and be mentored by BP professionals. With activities covering everything from touring facilities and learning about upstream in Anchorage to seeing the BP trading floor in action and exploring state-of-the-art refinery in the Chicago area, 2014’s prize will offer a real insight to our U.S. operations.”

BP developed the UFT Challenge in 2010 to offer science, technology, engineering and math students the opportunity to gain experience working on real-world challenges in the energy sector, which continually seeks trained employees. The company hires more than 700 university students per year for full-time intern and co-op positions across the country.

According to Aimee Close, USUR projects and program manager at BP, The Joules of Science will be the second all-female team ever to advance to the final round, and it is the only all-female team in this year’s challenge. The team is excited about potentially winning the competition.

“We expect to experience a very educational and professional trip. We will get the chance of meeting the diverse and intelligent UH and Trinidad winners and share the unique ideas we were all able to come up with,” Hijazi said.

“Teaming up with the finalists will give us insight and allow us to develop soft skills needed in any field. It will further our teamwork, research, cooperation abilities, and we will get the chance of experiencing the actual entity instead of just researching and dreaming about it.”

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