Engineering Student Makes International ConnectionsMonday, April 22, 2013
Chemical engineering student Keiron Durant has been busy this semester. In addition to attending class and working on his honors thesis, he also spent the past few months as part of an international team of students participating in Education Week, a program hosted by the International Petroleum Technology Conference. Keiron was on a team of 10 students from different countries, including Pakistan, Nigeria and Russia. They worked together over Skype, Facebook and email to come up with a solution for an engineering problem.
As part of Education Week, 100 students were selected from around the world to work in teams on actual engineering challenges. Keiron’s team was sponsored by China National Petroleum, and their assignment was to use intelligent field and intelligent well technologies to increase the production of an oil field. Between December and March, the team communicated online to come up with a plan. They met in person at the International Petroleum Conference in China, where they had four days to practice the presentation they made at the conference.
Keiron explained that in addition to learning a lot about petroleum engineering, he also made valuable friendships. “It was great interacting with students from all the different countries,” he said. “I definitely formed friendships that will last after the conference.”
Keiron learned about this opportunity from his mentor at Stanford University, where he participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates in the summer of 2012. At Stanford, Keiron studied the way mixtures of gas and water move through porous media like rocks. Researchers who are developing methods of carbon sequestration, an approach to reducing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, must understand this movement in order to make sure that carbon that is stored underground will stay there. Next summer, Keiron will be participating in an REU at MIT.
At the University of Arkansas, where Keiron is a member of the Honors College, he is studying with Jamie Hestekin, associate professor and holder of the Jim L. Turpin Professorship in Chemical and Biochemical Separations. Keiron is part of a project to create biofuels from algae, and he is looking for ways to improve the process of turning butyric acid from fermented algae into butanol.
Keiron appreciates the opportunities he’s had to conduct research as an undergraduate, because he likes solving problems. “I feel like there's a lot of research that needs to happen in fuel and energy,” he explained. “I want to work on more projects that help the environment and help communities.”
Camilla Medders, director of communications
College of Engineering