Schlumberger Gives $500K for Student Organization Center Inside EERC

The Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has received a $500,000 boost from longtime supporter Schlumberger Limited for the Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC), a project that will better prepare students to become 21st century engineers.

The Schlumberger Student Organization Center will house more than 80 student organizations, which are focused on providing community, services and educational programs outside of the classroom. The student center will provide more than 2,000 square feet of space to existing organizations, including the Society of Women Engineers, Student Engineering Council and the Texas Society of Professional Engineers.

schlumberger

The Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has received a $500,000 boost from longtime supporter Schlumberger Limited for the Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC), a project that will better prepare students to become 21st century engineers.

The $310 million, 430,000-square-foot EERC will provide cutting-edge classrooms and flexible research labs and work spaces that will encourage interdisciplinary research and innovative curriculum. With the EERC, the Cockrell School will be able to redesign curriculum to allow undergraduates to do hands-on projects every year of their education. The building is also anticipated to increase collaboration among engineering disciplines and other majors.

EERC badge

The Schlumberger gift announcement comes on the heels of the Cockrell School receiving final approval from The University of Texas System Board of Regents to begin construction of the EERC. The project is anticipated to be finished in early 2018.

“Over the years, Schlumberger has been a tremendous supporter of the Cockrell School’s education, research and internship initiatives,” said Sharon L. Wood, interim dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “We are grateful for their generous gift to the EERC and validation of the quality of education and research being conducted by students and faculty.”

In appreciation of the gift, the Cockrell School will name a section of the new building after Schlumberger, one of the world’s largest oilfield services companies with more than 120,000 employees.

The Schlumberger Student Organization Center will house more than 80 student organizations, which are focused on providing community, services and educational programs outside of the classroom. The student center will provide more than 2,000 square feet of space to existing organizations, including the Society of Women Engineers, Student Engineering Council and the Texas Society of Professional Engineers.

“We are thrilled the Schlumberger name will be connected to the Student Organization Center because of all the work we do with the engineering-focused student organizations,” said Susan Rosenbaum, director of knowledge management at Schlumberger and the Schlumberger ambassador to UT Austin.

Schlumberger has a longstanding partnership with the Cockrell School and many other universities throughout the nation. The gift to the EERC is the latest in a string of contributions and corporate sponsorships between Schlumberger and UT Austin. In total, Schlumberger has donated more than $56 million to UT Austin, $22 million of which has gone to the Cockrell School for student projects and organizations, faculty chairs, and programs such as Women in Engineering Program. In addition, Schlumberger has provided $10 million in sponsored research on drilling fluids, enhanced oil recovery, formation evaluation and wireless communication systems. Schlumberger’s team is working with UT faculty to develop new technologies and discover scientific breakthroughs.

Schlumberger doesn’t often invest in brick-and-mortar projects, but the company’s leaders saw the potential long-term benefit of the EERC to students, the state of Texas and the national workforce, Rosenbaum said.

“The Cockrell School’s vision of having engineering students from different disciplines working together fits exactly with what we need as a company,” she said. “No teams at Schlumberger are any one discipline working alone.”

Jeff Spath, vice president of industry and university relations at Schlumberger, agreed that the EERC could potentially help companies such as his with prospective employees as well as corporate-sponsored research.

“When I heard the vision for the EERC, I knew that we wanted to be part of it,” Spath added. “The focus on interdisciplinary education and hands-on projects for students made the difference. Also, the kind of research we could potentially do at UT Austin is going to expand because of the EERC.”

Nationally, many top engineering schools have started developing curriculum and facilities around the idea of project-based learning. A few universities that offer these types of hands-on projects report retention rates close to or above 90 percent for freshmen, according to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report.

Kashif Naseem, a graduate student in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, said he’s not surprised that Schlumberger would invest in education. He has accepted a position with the company and after graduation will join 385 Longhorns working at Schlumberger.

“Schlumberger puts great emphasis on education and learning, whether it’s in their own ranks or in the form of supporting institutions of higher learning,” Naseem said. “The EERC will provide students with the opportunity to broaden their horizons through research and increase their exposure to potential employers through participation in industry-sponsored programs which, in turn, will improve the quality of their educational experience here at UT.”

Rosenbaum said she’s excited to see construction of the EERC begin. The EERC will replace the Engineering-Sciences Building (ENS), a 50-year-old building that has outdated infrastructure and space limitations.

“The EERC will enable UT Austin to remain competitive with other engineering schools across the nation,” Rosenbaum said. “We are thrilled to be able to help a great school become even better.”