Petroleum Engineering Alumni Newsletter - December 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

This will be my last newsletter as Chairman of the department.  As announced in the November newsletter, thanks to a generous donation from Jeffrey McDougall, we have changed the name of the department to the McDougall School of Petroleum Engineering and will hire a new director for the program.  We are in the process of preparing the advertisement for the new position which will be advertised in many journals.  The role of new director will be a little different than the traditional role of the chairman.  The director will provide both short and long term vision for the program.  The director’s main responsibilities will include interfacing with the outside world, expanding research opportunities for faculty, soliciting resources for expanding new ideas, improving the undergraduate program and working closely with our alumni and industry partners.  The details will be worked out as the new director is hired and gains a better understanding of the functioning of the department.  

Effective January 1, 2011, I will be on sabbatical for one year.  During my sabbatical, I will do some traveling, get more involved with SPE activities as Regional Director, write a book, and develop some new courses.  I would also like to focus on some of the research ideas I have been pursuing.  After the sabbatical, I intend to work closely with the new director to make the department stronger and better. 

It is hard to believe that I have completed more than eight years as Chairman for the department.  For the most part, I really enjoyed this job.  The interaction with the students and alumni, and promoting faculty to the outside world were the best parts of this job.  I loved writing this newsletter and getting to know so many of you.  I appreciate the companies who came on campus and recruited our students.  I also appreciate the support provided by so many companies to our various faculty research projects.  However, without the students, this program can never be successful.  It is always good to see freshmen students mature into young engineers ready to face the world.  Hopefully, our department’s faculty has contributed to that process.   I will definitely miss many aspects of this job; however, I also believe that it is time for me to move on to do the things which I enjoy the most – teaching undergraduate classes and working with both undergraduate and graduate students. 

While we search for a new director, Dr. Stefan Miska has graciously agreed to become acting chair and Dr. Leslie Thompson has agreed to take responsibility for undergraduate students.  I want to thank both of them for taking care of these responsibilities.  Irrespective of my position, I will always enjoy meeting and interacting with our alumni and I am certain our paths will cross in the future.

Before I close, I want to thank Reta Watkins and Lori Watts for the invaluable help they provided me in this endeavor.  Reta has been the Department Assistant for ten years.  As our student population increased, her work load increased as well.  She took on the additional responsibilities with a smile on her face and a “can do” attitude.  Lori helped us with the recruiting of students, advising the students both formally and informally, and took on additional work when it was needed.  The department is really lucky to have the help of such able people.  We do not thank them (or pay them) enough!

I want to wish you happy holidays and a prosperous new year.  Take care and keep in touch.

Mohan Kelkar
Chairman and Williams Endowed Chair Professor

McDougall School of Petroleum Engineering