The University of Texas at Austin

The Hunt: Oil, Engineering and UT Austin

From the Leduc Woodbend Fields in Edmonton, Canada to the Eagle Ford Shale in San Antonio, the Cockrell School’s Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering (UT PGE) went on a hunt with an award-winning film crew last summer to capture the department’s rich 83-year history and its influence on Texas and the world.

Premiering Monday, March 25 at 8 p.m. (CST) on Longhorn Network, “The Hunt: The Story of Oil, Engineering and The University of Texas at Austin” showcases UT PGE’s consistent push forward in progressing the science and technology of petroleum engineering. Recognizing the department's preparation of generations of essential oil and gas engineers and business leaders, the documentary follows the journeys of a current UT PGE student, a father-son alumni team looking to strike it big in the Canadian oil fields and a 1944 graduate who applied his petroleum engineering knowledge to assist the Allies with winning World War II before becoming CEO of a major drilling company.

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Trailer for "The Hunt: The Story of Oil, Engineering and The University of Texas at Austin"

“The Hunt” also highlights the challenges of recovering oil — how we’ve moved from the days of Texas oil gushing out of the ground to a technologically sophisticated discipline that continues to advance. Much of the early oil recovery successes came from UT PGE’s innovative faculty members, who wrote the first books on petroleum engineering and are still known around the globe for research expertise in their respective fields.

The film’s cast includes well-known Longhorns such as Ernest H. Cockrell, who carries the engineering school namesake after his parents provided a generous gift that named it the Cockrell School of Engineering. Also featured is Jeff Hildebrand (MSPE ’85), CEO of Hilcorp Energy Co., who was recently appointed to the UT System Board of Regents, and alum Gabriel Muoneke (BSPE ’01), a four-year starter on the UT Austin men’s basketball team who now works for Afren Resources USA Inc.

Alumnus Shahid Ullah (BSPE ’82), who is president of Afren Resources, first conceptualized the 27-minute documentary at the 2011 UT PGE Distinguished Alumni Reception. Ullah said he saw an incredible story in the department’s history that could be used as a valuable tool to expand broad understanding of petroleum engineering and UT PGE’s impact on ensuring an energy-secure future. His leadership and support made production of the documentary possible.

Tune in to the March 25 premiere of “The Hunt: The Story of Oil, Engineering and The University of Texas at Austin” on Longhorn Network. For a sneak peek of the documentary, watch the trailer on the Cockrell School’s YouTube channel or check out the making-of photos on Flickr.