Q&A with John C. Calhoun Jr.
- John C. Calhoun Jr. (Texas A&M University) | John Donnelly (JPT Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- September 2007
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 21
- 2007. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Editor’s Note: In recognition of SPE’s 50th anniversary this year, JPT is conducting interviews with several society luminaries about their careers, their relationship with SPE, and the changes they have seen in the oil and gas industry and the society over the past several decades.
How did you get involved in SPE?
At Pennsylvania State University, I became an American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME) student member and, later, as a research assistant there, I attended AIME annual meetings. I became active in the Mineral Industries Education Division of AIME and eventually became its chairman. I was a member of the AIME Board, on which I served during some of the earliest discussions about AIME reorganization to give the member societies such as SPE more autonomy.
What has been your most valuable SPE experience?
This is difficult to pinpoint because there were many experiences that contributed to my understanding of petroleum practice, to my contacts with other petroleum engineers, and to my knowledge of professional organizations. Perhaps at the top of the list would be those activities that exposed me to the broader field of professional societies, the totality of the engineering profession, and the services that engineering renders to society.
As someone who has been involved in petroleum engineering education for decades, what do you believe are the biggest changes that have occurred in the teaching of petroleum engineering over that time?
Petroleum engineering came into being as an offshoot of mining engineering, with perhaps a greater emphasis upon geology. Petroleum curricula began to take on a separate identity as individual courses were introduced to embrace the operations that were identified with drilling and producing wells. These even extended to the refining of petroleum. After these early curricula were identified, the first significant change that occurred in the teaching of petroleum engineering took place with the recognition of concepts identified as reservoir engineering, which represented a shift from a concern for individual wells to a concern for the reservoir as an entity. Later, changes in teaching recognized that the well and reservoir needed to be considered together.
Today’s concerns of petroleum engineering education appear to fall into five general categories. First is that of gaining access to and operating within a greater portion of the subsurface environment. Second is that of developing instruments and methods for the detailed characterization of subsurface formations, their fluids, their variations, and their surroundings. Third is that of bringing to the surface a greater proportion of the petroleum from reservoirs that have been accessed and understanding the fluid transfer operations that accompany this recovery. Fourth is that of systematizing the management of the technological activities that make up these concerns and coupling the technological management with business decisions and regulatory requirements. Fifth is the extension of any and all of these concerns and activities to making use of the Earth’s subsurface for societal needs other than that of producing petroleum.
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