Texas Team Wins 2011 Imperial Barrel Award Competition

A team of geoscience students from The University of Texas at Austin beat finalists from 11 global regions to win the Imperial Barrel Award, the world's largest and most prestigious competition in petroleum geosciences hosted annually by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

The team of students from the university's Jackson School of Geosciences -- Ashley Bens, Michael Fairbanks, Justin Fitch, Erin Miller and Ben Siks -- won $20,000 for their AAPG student chapter.

The University of Southhampton from the United Kingdom took second place and Sultan Qaboos University from Oman was third.

Starting in regional competitions, 87 university teams competed for the Imperial Barrel Award. Students use industry technology and datasets to seek a solution to an energy geoscience problem, presenting their findings to a panel of judges from the energy industry. The panel selects the winning team based on the technical quality, clarity and originality of its presentation.

"From an employability perspective, the five students who won went from strong contenders to the top of the class on every petroleum recruiter's list," said Chris Zahm, a research associate at the Jackson School and faculty adviser for the team. "This is the top line of their resume."

"I'm so proud of the students and their adviser," said Sharon Mosher, dean of the Jackson School. "Witnessing what these students have just accomplished, the future looks very bright."

AAPG started the Imperial Barrel Award program in 2007, based on a similar competition at Imperial College, to give students an opportunity to experience the team-oriented creative process and evolving technology of the energy industry.