Around the globe, Mines is increasingly recognized as a source for creative and innovative solutions to Earth’s most difficult energy challenges. In May, a delegation from Mines traveled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a visit that could mark the beginning of the most far-reaching energy partnership in Mines history. Ramona Graves, petroleum engineering professor and dean of the College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering; Tony Dean, senior vice president for Research and Technology Transfer; Hazim Abass, Petroleum Engineering professor and research director in the Petroleum Engineering Department; and Brian Winkelbauer, Colorado School of Mines Foundation president and chief operating officer, embarked on a week-long outreach tour that started in Jeddah and ended in Dhahran.
The Saudi Aramco management warmly welcomed the Mines delegation, ready to discuss how Mines, in partnership with Aramco, could collaborate with the company to provide better energy solutions for tomorrow. The trip culminated in discussions about a future energy center at the campus, to be sponsored by Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s largest and most successful petroleum companies and the center of Saudi Arabia’s economy. For Saudi Aramco, partnering with Mines is the next step in a long history of student exchange, research collaboration, and active alumni within the corporation. Of the 31 countries represented at Mines, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the second highest number of students, with 42 pursuing undergraduate degrees and 27 pursuing graduate degrees. Of those, 41 students are sponsored by Saudi Aramco. Additionally, more than 80 Mines alumni reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and 65 Mines alumni are currently employed by Saudi Aramco.
The visit included touring the Saudi Aramco Upstream and Downstream R&D Centers, as well as academic discussions with the two most prominent universities in the region, King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). The delegation toured the extensive facilities at Saudi Aramco, including drilling simulation rooms and other hands-on learning laboratories. Discussions centered on research and development and were facilitated by Saudi Aramco’s chief technology officer, Ahmad Al Khowaiter. Engineers and scientists were presented with an overview of Mines research expertise and strategic partnerships with federal agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Ending the trip on a high note, more than 100 Saudi Aramco employees, most of whom were Mines alumni, celebrated Mines at a reception hosted by Khaled Al-Buraik, a vice president at Saudi Aramco. Continuing discussions between Mines and Saudi Aramco will allow them to explore a partnership and collaboration to help students attain a global perspective, bring new ideas to the Kingdom’s largest company, and offer the world more energy opportunities.