Pillars of the Industry - D. Brant Bennion discusses careers in R&D.
I appreciate the invitation by SPE to share a few thoughts on my experiences over the last 30 years as a research scientist in the energy industry. It has been a very rewarding career for me, and I hope that the following insights will be of benefit to those who might be considering a career in research and development, or R&D.
A career in R&D is certainly not for everyone. But for those to whom it has appeal, there are many different niches that I have seen over the years into which someone can fit their personal interests, talents, and strengths. There are currently three major venues for a career in R&D in the energy industry:
1. University or technical institution academic programs that are working primarily on “fundamental” research
2. Oil- or gas-operating-company or government-sponsored research centers or institutes that are working on a combination of both fundamental and process- or field-specific “applied” research studies
3. Commercial research institutes or service-company-affiliated laboratories that are working on mostly applied or field-specific/fit-for-purpose research studies or projects on a for-profit or cost-recovery basis
Each of these venues has particular advantages and disadvantages. Although my personal experience has primarily been in the third category, I have had the opportunity over the years to have close association with many individuals in the first two categories as well.