When the coronavirus pandemic caused businesses to shutter their offices in favor of telecommuting, many students in the University of Oklahoma Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy lost summer internships. With internships a graduation requirement for some majors, students’ graduation tracks were in jeopardy.
That’s when the college’s Ronnie K. Irani Center for Energy Solutions stepped in to help.
Housed in the Mewbourne College, the Irani Center for Energy Solutions, founded in 2018, is a program that provides practical experiences and develops entrepreneurial mindsets for students pursuing energy- and earth-sciences-related degrees. Through externships, student teams work on industry projects provided by sponsoring companies.
Before the pandemic, I-CES student externship efforts were focused on the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering’s capstone course and a couple of summer externship projects. But when students lost their summer internships, I-CES Executive Director David Ferris collaborated with energy companies to develop meaningful projects for students and companies.
“The Irani Center for Energy Solutions is committed to providing opportunities that are real-time and real-world so that both the students and the sponsoring company benefit,” said Ferris.
This meant he and his team needed to find companies that could provide current projects, not scenarios, hypotheticals or past ventures already completed. Despite logistical issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and a volatile energy market, six companies agreed to provide projects and valuable experience to students.
Among those companies are Hefner Energy and Ming Energy Partners, based in Oklahoma City, and Foundation Energy Management, based in Dallas and Tulsa.
Nineteen petroleum engineering and two geosciences students who were without internships were placed in externships. Student teams will spend the summer working on projects ranging from valuing portfolios of royalty interests to creating field development plans in the Anadarko Basin of Oklahoma and several other major producing basins across the United States.
“This pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetimes,” said Ferris. “But despite challenges, we have seen time and again people finding opportunities to help one another. The projects provided for Irani Center for Energy Solutions externships are another example of our collective compassion for people, and in this case, our students. We are grateful to our project sponsors who provided students with hope and opportunity during a very difficult situation.”
The Irani Center for Energy Solutions is dedicated to providing energy opportunity for all. Along with experiential learning for students, I-CES enveloped the College’s professional development program, which has been offering courses for professionals in the energy and earth sciences industries at home abroad for two decades. I-CES also engages with the community about matters related to energy.
Thanks to efforts of faculty and staff throughout the coronavirus pandemic, students continue to receive excellent educational experiences at the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy.