Shire pupils embark on energy industry challenge

Members of last year's winning team from Oldmachar Academy. (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)
Members of last year's winning team from Oldmachar Academy. (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

Secondary school pupils across Aberdeenshire are tapping into their physics, maths, chemistry and geology skills to solve an energy industry challenge.

The move comes as TechFest launches its STEM in the Pipeline programme.

Sponsored by BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, and supported by the University of Aberdeen, the Energy Institute, the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain, the Project Management Institute and the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), the programme will see 16 teams of senior pupils working on an oil and gas project over the next few months.

Pupils attended an introduction day at The University of Aberdeen with industry professionals and academics advising them on the best approach to this year’s project which is to produce a Field Development Plan.

They will continue to work with their mentors and gain a valuable insight into careers in engineering and the oil and gas industry before presenting their solution at the final event in December.

TechFest is an Aberdeen based charity which aims to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities to young people and the wider community.

Alies Bartelds, acting managing director of TechFest, said: “The programme is a great opportunity for young people to apply their knowledge and skills into solving a problem relevant to the energy sector, so they get a real feel for the industry and the opportunity to develop their interpersonal and team skills.

“Along with the support of mentors and industry professionals, some of whom took on the challenge themselves over the past twelve years, the students will come together in small teams and each spend more than 40 extracurricular hours working on their project, which they will then present to the judges in December.

“Every year we are blown away by the amount of consideration and dedication demonstrated by the pupils involved and we are already looking forward to seeing their ideas in a few months’ time.”

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, separator design, safety and the calculation of CO2 emissions.

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. There is also a Maximising Economic Recovery (MER) UK Award to mark the OGA’s involvement with the competition and commend those teams that recognise the importance of industry’s collective responsibility to ensure the UK secures the maximum value of recoverable oil and gas from its waters.

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. TechFest 2017 runs from September 11 to 25.

The schools taking part this year include: Banchory Academy, Portlethen Academy, St Margaret’s School for Girls, Meldrum Academy, Kemnay Academy, Aboyne Academy, Fraserburgh Academy, Inverurie Academy, Aberdeen Grammar School, Oldmachar Academy, Ellon Academy, Harlaw Academy, Turriff Academy and Alford Academy.