Industry Leaders Help Advance Math and Science Education

Industry Leaders Help Advance Math and Science Education

An education initiative aimed at inspiring students to choose careers in math and science will soon award a third round of grants to K-12 classrooms at several local schools.

The Education Collaborative, an outreach program of the Society of Petroleum Engineers of Santa Maria, awards the grants on behalf of the Oil & Gas Industry. In addition to providing grants, the collaborative recently launched a series of contests intended to promote creativity in classroom lesson plans and student activities, with a focus on the future energy landscape of California.

Major donors to the collaborative include Exaro Energy, BreitBurn Energy, David McNabb Construction, Santa Maria Pacific, Underground Energy, Venoco, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Andre Morris & Buttery, California Independent Petroleum Association, E&B Natural Resources Management Company, Plains Exploration & Production Company, Western States Petroleum Association, Barnett Cox & Associates and Kenai Drilling.

The contest and grant components are open to students and teachers in Northern Santa Barbara County, with winning classrooms to each receive grants up to $1,500 for science equipment, computers, field trips and other educational materials. The collaborative is looking to expand the outreach to portions of San Luis Obispo and surrounding counties in 2009.

The most recent winners will be announced at a dinner and awards ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.

Also, that evening, one classroom will be selected for a special opportunity to watch actual advanced oil and gas engineering technology at work, with a special televised “live feed” view of a water well being drilled in a third world country. The well project is in partnership with Manhattan-based Charity: Water.

Students will choose the drilling location and learn how oilfield expert Harry Westmoreland adapted oil drilling technology and engineered a portable unit to produce desperately needed drinking water in arid and impoverished parts of the world.

“This is just one grassroots approach that our industry is taking to encourage students to study math and science, and our way of showing them how their efforts combined with advanced technology can make a real difference in people’s lives,” said SPE Education Collaborative representative Gayle Pratt. “It is our belief that investment in education ensures solutions to meet the needs of a worldwide economy.”

For more information or to become a sponsor of the SPE Education Collaborative, visit our Web site,, or contact Gayle Pratt at (805) 938-3320, ext. 225.

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