Robert Gordon’s College wins top prize at final OF TechFest’s STEM in the Pipeline

Source: press release, 12 December 2019

Paddy Petroleum, the winning team from Robert Gordon’s College are pictured at BP’s North Sea headquarters with their STEM in the Pipeline 2019 award – from left, Alistair Finch, Patrick Ashdown, Douglas Fraser and Sean Alger
Paddy Petroleum, the winning team from Robert Gordon’s College are pictured at BP’s North Sea headquarters with their STEM in the Pipeline 2019 award – from left, Alistair Finch, Patrick Ashdown, Douglas Fraser and Sean Alger (photo: RGC)

Pupils from Robert Gordon’s College have excelled in this year’s STEM in the Pipeline competition, which tasked them with finding a solution to an oil and gas challenge. Team Paddy Petroleum from the Aberdeen school took first prize at this week’s final at BP’s North Sea headquarters in Dyce.

The judges praised the submission as “a standout” for several reasons, one of them being its alternative methods of power generation. The Robert Gordon’s College team was also presented with the best project managed team award.

Team Pipe Down from Aberdeen Grammar School was awarded second prize, with the judges stating their report demonstrated a great understanding of the project and its problems.

Pipin’ Hot from Cults Academy won the Maximising Economic Recovery accolade, with judges impressed by their field development and future-looking approach.

Run by TechFest, STEM in the Pipeline began in September, when groups of senior pupils from schools across the North-east were set an oil field challenge designed to test their skills in physics, maths, chemistry and geology.

STEM in the Pipeline is sponsored by BP, Chevron, Chrysaor, OPITO and the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA). Each of the sponsor organisations provides industry professionals to mentor and offer guidance and support to the pupils throughout the project.

The tasks cover subsurface work, production profiling, process engineering and the calculation of CO2 emissions. Working with their mentors, the pupils have developed skills in geology, reservoir engineering, process engineering, finance, processing and project management to apply the best approach to the challenge. The teams need to demonstrate their solutions and consider key factors such as subsurface work, production profiling, process engineering and the calculation of CO2 emissions.

Douglas Fraser from the winning Robert Gordon’s College team, says, “This has been a very rewarding experience. It’s developed my confidence, my ability to manage a team and get things done within a certain deadline. I feel like the range of skills we had on the team was really helpful because we had lots of different perspectives on all the different challenges and lots of different aspects were incorporated in the project such as finance, coding, and chemical engineering.”

STEM in the Pipeline has been running for 14 years, inspiring young people from all walks of life to engage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, with some choosing to pursue a career in the oil and gas industry as a result.

TechFest is an Aberdeen-based charity, which aims to engage young people in the four main STEM subjects and encourage them to go on to follow a career which utilises these skills by demonstrating that they are both fun and relevant in day-to-day life.

Martha Gavan, STEM lead at TechFest, says, “Once again we have been hugely impressed by the work and enthusiasm demonstrated by students. This is a challenging project and there’s a lot of work to cram into a three-month time period, so I’d like to congratulate each of the pupils involved. I’d also like to thank each of the mentors involved in this year’s programme who have provided an insight into what it’s like to work in the industry. They have been a huge support to each of the teams and inspired many of these young people’s future career choices.”

For the energy companies which support the initiative, STEM in the Pipeline plays a key role in inspiring young people’s interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Ariel Flores, BP North Sea Regional President, added his congratulations to the pupils who took part. He says, “The future for BP, and indeed the wider energy sector, needs talented people with a strong foundation in STEM to help drive progress and innovation to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges. BP is proud of its long association with the STEM in the Pipeline competition and we would like to congratulate all those involved for once again showing such high levels of ingenuity, creativity and professionalism.”

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 STEM subjects.

The schools who took part this year were Westhill Academy, Robert Gordon’s College, Turriff Academy, St Margaret’s School for Girls, Aberdeen Grammar School, Cults Academy, The Gordon Schools in Huntly, Oldmachar Academy and Kemnay Academy.

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.