David Ferris recently joined the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy as the inaugural executive director of the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Energy Solutions.
The Irani Center for Energy Solutions provides best-in-class educational opportunities and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit in Mewbourne College students. Energy companies partner with the Irani Center to deliver innovative solutions to industry problems and provide students with the practical experience essential to advancing their careers. Student teams are often seen collaborating in the Irani Center’s newly remodeled collaboration space on the 14th floor of Sarkeys Energy Center on the OU campus.
Ferris is an alumnus of the Mewbourne College, holding a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering and a master’s degree in natural gas engineering. He also earned an MBA from OU and a doctorate in organizational change and leadership from the University of Southern California. For the past 11 years, he has served on the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering Industry Advisory Board and was chairman from 2017-2019.
“With degrees in energy-related engineering fields and business, I share Ronnie Irani’s strong affinity for how we think about energy, how we think about business and how we combine those to really power the future of our industry,” explained Ferris.
He looks forward to sharing with students his unique experiences in the industry, which began during a college internship when he worked in the field as a roustabout.
“It was hard work, but when you’re painting flowlines inside a tank battery, you learn how the tank battery works. For me, that practical experience made the theoretical learning in the classroom more engaging.”
After college, Ferris became a field engineer where he managed production and workover operations.. He moved on to leadership roles in a smaller company where his tasks for the day might include drilling and completing wells, working with landmen to evaluate acquisitions, or collaborating with his geologist to create a new prospect. He later moved to a large company where he worked in strategic and integrated planning, often developing multi-billion-dollar field development plans.
“Coming out of the last 20 years, I’ve learned how to operate like a small company where every dollar and every minute matters. However, my experience in large companies has given me a perspective of the massive scale and integrated planning needed in unconventional energy endeavors to provide a meaningful return for stakeholders,” Ferris said.
He hopes to pass along learnings from these experiences to help students and to grow the Irani Center into the full vision originally conceived by Ronnie K. Irani.
The Irani Center was founded in 2018 by Mewbourne College alumnus Ronnie K. Irani and is working with its second cohort of students.
Irani Center student teams, under the supervision of faculty advisors, work to meet the needs of their industry clients. These projects may include dissecting existing oil and gas plays; preparing industry-styled, type-curve and reserve reports; working on projects like evaluating undeveloped zones for drilling and recompletion opportunities; evaluating re-stimulation, artificial lift and compression configurations for optimizing production; and evaluating petrophysical and geological characteristics of resource plays.
As the program grows, it will have opportunities for students across campus in areas like energy management, entrepreneurship, economics, accounting, law and finance. These multidisciplinary teams are similar to those found in industry where diversity of thought is important because we believe energy and education provide greater opportunities for all people.
There are three anchors to the Irani Center.
- Practical Experience. The Irani Center partners with companies to deliver innovative solutions and provide our students with the industry experience essential to advancing their careers. Several of our partner companies continue to work with us because of the high quality deliverables produced by the student teams
- Professional Development. The Energy Institute of the Americas, Mewbourne College’s successful professional development program, is now a part of the Irani Center. EIA will continue to connect industry professionals with our world-renowned OU faculty to offer energy education on campus, on site and worldwide to create a greater opportunity for all.
- Stakeholder Engagement. Engaging the public about the importance of energy is essential and we want move past rhetoric to engage in meaningful dialogue about the importance of energy and stewardship. Our desire is to lead this conversation on the OU campus, in our communities, and throughout the world.
Ferris is excited about the growth potential of the Irani Center and developing partnerships with students and industry to enhance knowledge, advance careers and provide greater opportunities for all.
To learn more about the Irani Center for Energy Solutions, visit ou.edu/mcee/ICES.