2012's winners, L-R: Edward Kay, Simonas Stilius and �Guy Drori.

Strathclyde students win the BP Ultimate Field Trip 2012

The talent discovery event is sending the winners on a six week paid internship to Trinidad and Tobago and the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week saw the 2012 grand final of the BP Ultimate Field Trip, which asked students from across the UK to come up with ideas on how to create the world’s first zero carbon dioxide (CO₂) oil refinery by 2030.

735 students registered to take part in this year’s competition, which was whittled down to the final three groups through several rounds of presentations and tough questioning.

The winning team, entitled Aspire, is made up of three students from Strathclyde University: Guy Drori, Simonas Stilius and Edward Kay. The students, who are studying naval architecture with marine engineering, naval architecture with ocean engineering and aero-mechanical engineering respectively, impressed the judges with their concept to harness nature’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide.

Going green

Their idea is to provide optimal conditions for algae to photosynthesise, using flue gas from an oil refinery as a source of CO2. As well as providing a system for carbon capture, algal biomass can provide a source of profit with products ranging from bio-fuels to pharmaceuticals.

There was tough competition from the teams C-Less and Global Intelligence Consulting however, both from Imperial College London. C-Less put forward the idea of a three-phase plan that would optimise the refinery process in order to reduce carbon emissions and then utilise relevant carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

Global Intelligence Consulting’s idea was more futuristic – alongside refinery efficiency the students looked at the concept of the artificial leaf, which completed the carbon cycle.

“They came up with quite different solutions to the challenge,” says David Eyton, BP’s group head of Technology, a judge and long-time advocator of the competition. “Some invoked offsets, some invoked very futuristic technologies and some invoked technologies proven today, but they all went about it with great team work, excitement and very effective presentations. It was a privilege to review them all. “

The BP Ultimate Field Trip

BP developed the competition three years ago to give STEM students the opportunity to engage with and experience the oil and gas sector at first hand. A great recruitment device for the company, it also gives students a chance to gain some excellent experience and develop new skills.

“They get to work in often multidisciplinary teams on difficult challenges,  giving them the chance to feel what it’s really like to work inside a big company,” highlights Eyton.

“We challenge them quite broadly,” he continues. “It’s not just about solving a problem but also presenting it effectively. They’re learning quite a lot of good life skills, which will equip them well in the future by engaging in this.”

“We’ve gained a lot from the experience,” says Stilius. “The presentation skills especially, because it’s not something you usually do in university. We also got a good insight into the energy industry and the chance to work with some of the professionals.

“You’re also applying core skills,” adds Kay. “Although this was a different subject for us we were using the same through processes and going through the same stages to reach our conclusions,” he notes.

The prize

Team Aspire’s prize is a paid internship with BP that will begin this July. They will get to spend three weeks in Trinidad and Tobago and a further three weeks in the Gulf of Mexico where they will visit BP’s operations, work on a real business challenge and experience life offshore.

They will be sharing their experiences with us post-internship, so be sure to come back this autumn to hear their stories.

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