Pupils embark on energy challenge

The launch of TechFest 2018
The launch of TechFest 2018

Pupils across Aberdeenshire will put their physics, maths, chemistry and geology skills to the test to solve TechFest’s energy industry challenge.

TechFest’s STEM in the Pipeline will launch today (September 6) at the University of Aberdeen’s Fraser Noble Building where pupils will attend an introduction day with industry professionals who will act as mentors.

Sponsored by BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, and this year by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), the programme will see 15 teams of senior pupils tackling an oil field challenge over the next few months.

Aberdeenshire schools taking part this year are Westhill Academy, Fraserburgh Academy, Inverurie Academy, The Gordon Schools, Kemnay Academy, Meldrum Academy, Ellon Academy, Banchory Academy and Alford Academy.

To mark the OGA’s involvement, a special Maximising Economic Recovery (MER UK) Award will be presented to commended teams which recognise the importance of industry’s collective responsibility to ensure the UK secures the maximum value of recoverable oil and gas from its waters.

During the introduction day, the students will attend five hands-on workshops in geology, reservoir engineering, process engineering, finance, processing and project management and start working together in their newly formed teams.

They will also meet the industry professionals and academics who will advise them on the best approach to this year’s project and who will be their mentors throughout the programme.

Teams will be expected to work together and take part in a challenging series of tasks to produce a Field Development Plan for the fictional STEM oil field.

The tasks cover subsurface work, production profiling, process engineering, and the calculation of CO2 emissions.

Over the upcoming months, the secondary school pupils will gain valuable insight into careers in engineering and the oil and gas industry before presenting their solution to TechFest’s challenge at the final event in December.

TechFest is an Aberdeen-based charity which aims to engage young people in the four main STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and encourage them to go on to follow a career which utilises these skills by demonstrating that they are both fun and relevant in day to day life.

Alies Bartelds, operations manager at TechFest, said: “We are excited to introduce a new group of secondary pupils to this year’s STEM in the Pipeline, during which, they will have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work in the oil and gas industry.

“Thanks to the continued support and generous contribution from OGA, this year is particularly exciting as we have been able to refresh the original programme, adding a requirement to create a 3D model of their STEM oil field using software, Lego, playdough or other materials.

“The pupils will also be tasked with investigating the engineering concept of how the crude oil is separated and cleaned before it is exported off the platform to the refineries. This gives the teams a realistic project to put their knowledge and skills into practice.

“We would like to thank each of our sponsors and the generosity of the industry professionals who volunteer their time to mentor the students, as their continued support means that we are able to offer this unique programme to young people who are passionate about pursuing a career using STEM skills.

“In addition to working with their mentors, the students will come together in small teams and each spend more than 40 extracurricular hours working on their project, developing their interpersonal and teamwork skills.

“Each year we are blown away by the amount of consideration and dedication demonstrated by the pupils and we are already looking forward to seeing their ideas when they present their solutions to the judges in December.”

After submitting a report to TechFest, each team will give a presentation to a panel of assessors at the final which will be held at BP North Sea Headquarters in Dyce. They will then be awarded prizes and given certificates.

Pupils who take part in STEM in the Pipeline will also be eligible for the Silver CREST Award, Britain’s national award scheme for work in the STEM subjects.

Each year, TechFest runs Aberdeen and North-east Scotland’s annual festival of STEM which attracts tens of thousands of children and adults to a series of presentations, workshops and events in and around Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.