UH Students Vie For BP's Field Trip Prize

The British Petroleum building in Anchorage, Alaska. [flickr/glaciergirl]
Three University of Houston sophomores are advancing to the national competition of BP's Ultimate Field Trip contest — an energy competition for science and engineering students.

If chosen as grand prize winners for the U.S., the UH team will join winners from four other participating countries on a two-week field trip to BP locations in Alaska and Chicago.

Aimee Close is in charge of BP's university projects.

"It's so much fun being being able to engage, especially with the year one and year two students, because many of them are still formulating 'what does my career path look like? I think I have an interest in this.' And so to watch that excitement and be able to experience and express and articulate the ideas behind what they're trying to accomplish and see what we as a company might be able to use something like that, it really, it is a very moving experience."

Close says students were given a real-world energy problem to solve.

"This year, the challenge was how would they identify an innovation — solution — that would significantly reduce energy consumption and could be implemented by 2025. Is it scalable, could we really do it? And then we asked them to include a business aspect of 'is it feasible?' You know, 'would this be able to work in the real world environment?' And that's why we put the time frame of 2025."

Now, the UH winners will compete with student teams from other U.S. universities, and if chosen as grand prize winners for the U.S, the team will join winners from four other participating countries — Angola, Canada, the UK and Trinidad and Tobago — on a two-week field trip to BP locations in Alaska and Chicago.

"They're actually taking the problem that we gave them and expanding upon it, and they also record a five-minute video with their presentation and pitch. So we do ask some additional questions that we didn't ask when they were on campus. But it's a great experience. I mean, you're getting to present a potential business case to real executives and real scientific leaders within our industry, and so it's a great opportunity for them."

BP hires more than 700 university students for full-time, intern and co-op positions annually in the United States.

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Ed Mayberry

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Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...