AADE 2017: Senior drilling engineers urged to continue student mentorship

By Alex Endress, News Editor, World Oil on 4/11/2017

Every great drilling engineer, at one time, most likely had a great mentor, who provided him or her with help and support when it was needed most.

“Would you consider today—what if no one had stepped forward during your earliest years and mentored to you? What if no one had stopped you before you executed a risky procedure that you had written, but maybe had not had all the experiences to know all of the consequences?” said Warren R. Farmer, deepwater planning engineer at Stone Energy and president of the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE). Farmer spoke to attendees of the AADE National Technical Conference during a luncheon at the conference on April 11 in Houston.

“The person who patted you on the back when you did well and the person who provided positive thoughts when you were wrong and needed some seasoning—what if they had not been there?” he said, calling on AADE members to consider reaching out to young engineers to provide mentorship. “Our organization has tried to be there, and most of these times, has accomplished that task.”

Farmer urged AADE members to contact local universities, to offer speaking support, and to offer educational support in the form of practical courses and seminars. “The kids are primed to get that practical experience that the university professor just cannot offer. It does take time, but it will make you a better engineer.”

He also told members to look for jobs in their organizations for young engineers attempting to break into the drilling industry, on the heels of one of the worst downturns in history. Such opportunities could include even, “cutting grass around a production facility, rolling pipe in the pipe yard or painting assets that certainly needed tidying up—we all have those (jobs). Then, when they have a moment, walk them through the processes of what we do, as we drill for, or produce, our products,” Farmer said. “It’s true: many have not stepped on a rig floor or even worked a derrick. Some of us did in the past, but many of us didn’t—those of us who did, always wished we’d had more field experience in our younger days, and so will many of these kids.”

Farmer acknowledged the problems that people in today’s upstream oil and gas workforce are experiencing, further challenging AADE to continue its leadership role. “We appear to be poking our heads out to see if the coast is clear in this new energy market of low prices and high capital costs. We’ve seen this before, and if history is right, we will see this again,” Farmer said. “Those of us who are left are working long hours with few smiles, (and) those of us who are outside looking in are wondering when, and where, they can step back into employment, and yet, there are those who are leaving the trade schools and universities, only wishing for a chance, and wondering where they can get the experience to get them through that door.”

After Farmer’s address to the conference attendees, he presented Joe Leimkuhler, vice president of drilling for LLOG, the AADE Outstanding Award. “Few have received the Outstanding Award,” Farmer said. “You have to go above and beyond the call of duty.”

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