Q&A with W. John Lee
- W. John Lee (Texas A&M University) | John Donnelly (JPT Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- April 2007
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 20
- 2007. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Editor’s Note: In recognition of SPE’s 50th anniversary this year, JPT is conducting interviews with several Society luminaries about their careers, their relationship with SPE, and the changes they have seen in the oil and gas industry and the Society over the past several decades.
What SPE experience has been the most valuable to you professionally?
The SPE experience most valuable to me professionally has been writing all or part of three textbooks published by SPE. Regardless of whether I deserved a favorable image in the industry or not because of these books, I have found that they have opened doors for me all over the world ever since the first book was published in the early 1980s. For example, as a direct result of my books, I have been invited to speak to and consult with groups—such as SPE local sections, operating companies, and government agencies—all over the world. I continue to be amazed when engineers who have been practicing from one year to 30 years bring copies of one or more of my books for me to autograph when we meet for the first time in places like Billings, Montana; Moscow; Bogota, Colombia; or Bandung, Indonesia.
What SPE experience or honor has been the most valuable to you personally?
The DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal. To me, providing service to other professionals, especially to students and young engineers, is our single most important task. To have been recognized by my peers as having succeeded, at least in part, is worth far more to me than all the technical recognition that SPE provides.
What are the most significant changes that have occurred in SPE since you joined?
The changes I regard as most significant include internationalization and the development of the electronic SPE. The Society’s primary objectives have been to collect, store, and disseminate information. We do this so much more effectively now, and make it available to so many more people, than when I joined SPE that there is simply no comparison between then and now.
Do you see major differences in petroleum engineering graduates today vs. a decade or two ago?
Today’s petroleum engineering graduates are fundamentally the same as a decade or two ago. Today’s graduates have much stronger skills in information technology and they are much better at multitasking than earlier generations were, although sometimes at the expense of depth of knowledge about the information or methodology they use. However, at the core, I have always found a majority of students to be creative, motivated, and interested in making things around them better.
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