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04/28/2016

Preparing for the 2016 IBA Competition: Insights from Dr. Iftikhar


Preparing for the IBA Competition requires months or hard work and dedication. Dr. Iftikhar, the Faculty Advisor for the 2016 Middle East winning team, Sultan Qaboos University, provided an insight into how his team prepared for this prestigious competition.

  • How did the team prepare for the IBA competition? What was the most difficult part of the preparations?

The team members were selected through open invitation followed by an interview to select the appropriate team members. The team was comprised of two students from the fields of geology and geophysics and one from the field of petroleum engineering, all in the final year of their undergraduate degree program. In order to familiarize the team members with the IBA format, they were briefed about the competition using previous years’ presentations.

“A couple of students who participated in previous years were also invited to share their experiences and advice to help boost the team’s confidence.”

A couple of students who participated in previous years were also invited to share their experiences and advice to help boost the team’s confidence. SQU has been participating in the competition for many years and so the team had a good idea of what was required in terms of commitment, time management and hard work.

Since the data-set was not taken from the Middle East region, the team initially struggled to understand the geological set-up of the area and even the formation names were difficult for the students to pronounce. The hardest part was to understand the data-set and to extract the required information from it. Although team members were slightly familiar with the required soft-wares such as petrel and techlog, they still had to learn these in great detail to use for data analysis and interpretation. Once they familiarized themselves with the soft-wares, data-set and geological set up of the basin, they were at ease to interpret and synthesize the information from it.

“Time management was crucial for the students and they were meticulous about utilizing every available minute of their time.”

  • Preparing for IBA requires a lot of dedication and extra hours. How did you manage to keep students motivated and involved throughout?

As all of the students were graduating at the end of the academic year they were under tremendous pressure to attend classes, partake in mid-term exams, quizzes and submit reports while also dedicating an enormous amount of their time for the competition. Weekly meetings were held during which team members were able to address their concerns about their courses and how to maintain their GPA, while at the same time preparing for the competition.

“Besides the honor of winning such a prestigious competition, students realized the importance of the IBA for future career opportunities in the petroleum industry.”

Time management was crucial for the students and they were meticulous about utilizing every available minute of their time. Through their dedication and hard work the team’s confidence and motivation to win the competition grew. Besides the honor of winning such a prestigious competition, students realized the importance of the IBA for future career opportunities in the petroleum industry.

“The competition provided an excellent opportunity for students to work on a real data-set from a prospective basin.”

  • What were the key skills that the students learnt or improved on while working towards the competition?

The competition provided an excellent opportunity for students to work on a real data-set from a prospective basin. It was their first opportunity to deal with a petroleum basin in great detail, synthesis data-set to get purposeful information and to interpret it. It was also an opportunity for them to learn industry related soft-wares such as petrel and techlog. They now have the confidence to work on real world data-sets from various basins to synthesis and interpret information in a professional manner. They also learned about presenting complex information in an objective manner.

  • As the faculty advisor of the winning team, what would be your one piece of advice to all future participating teams?

Have full confidence in your abilities to communicate complex information in a simplified convincing manner.