By Ahmed Mohamed
In 2015, I graduated from University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering. Unfortunately, this was exactly when the industry downturn happened, and it was almost impossible to find a job back then. This was probably the worst timing ever to graduate with a petroleum engineering degree, and I even refer to the 2015 class as “The Petroleum Engineering Martyrs.” After too many failures trying to find a job, my disappointment was huge and made me hopeless and depressed. Afterwards, I realized that I shouldn’t give up, and that I needed to start acting fast to get my life back together. At this moment, I took the decision to apply for graduate schools but only the top petroleum engineering schools in the U.S.; USC Viterbi was surely one of them.
I was fortunate enough to start my master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering (Smart Oilfield Technologies) at USC Viterbi School of Engineering, one of the oldest and best petroleum engineering programs in the nation. I cannot express enough my sincere gratitude to Professor Iraj Ershaghi, our faculty adviser and program director, who is a great man, mentor and teacher with a sharp vision and limitless amount of knowledge and experience. We can all spend a lifetime just learning from him, and it still wouldn’t’ be enough. Above that, he is like a father to all of us. We all hold for him a huge amount of respect and appreciation deep inside our hearts. Thanks to Professor Ershaghi for believing in me when I personally didn’t believe in myself. I thank him for accepting my application and giving me the opportunity to be part of this formidable journey and experience of being a USC Viterbi student. Without him, I could only dream about joining a school with the prestige and elegant status of USC.
From the first day here, I have developed a profound love and passion for USC that made me have this urgent need to give back to the school that I love the most, the school that showed me the light at the end of the dark tunnel, the school through which I had the chance to interact and connect with some of the brightest minds and intellectuals that I have ever met in my life –the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. I served as the President of the USC Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) for the 2017-2018 academic year, and since then, I have been determined to achieve an indispensable goal: to make our USC SPE chapter receive the Outstanding Student Chapter Recognition from SPE International (SPEI), which is the highest honor for a chapter, recognizing those that are exemplary in all categories. Accordingly, I tirelessly exerted all possible efforts to achieve this goal with the help of a superb team consisting of great and hard-working students and fellow classmates. Our annual report was submitted to SPE on April 1st, and all fingers are crossed waiting for the announcement that USC possibly won this exceptional award. It will be a very special feeling to bring USC SPE this glory for the first time ever. Thanks so much to our USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, faculty adviser, and all other organizations and individuals that contributed to the chapter and provided it with the necessary tools and resources to succeed and stay at the top.
I would like also to extend my very special thanks to Dr. Steve Cheung, the student chapter liaison of our sponsoring SPE section (LASPE), a proud USC alumnus who shared with me the same passion, recognized all my hard work along the way, and therefore nominated me for the OCEC Outstanding Engineering Student. The award means a lot to me and shows me a clear evidence that I am on the right path. It shows me that following your heart, chasing your dreams and all you are passionate about actually works; it is a way to reward your soul before everything else. This award absolutely boosted my self-confidence in my ability to connect with people on a larger-scale, help others and give back to the community, and that I can have a positive impact on this world. I cannot wait for many more awards to come.
Thanks again to Dr. Cheung for the nomination. He has always provided me and the chapter officers with endless support and played a great role in shaping the leaders we are today. He did it all with love, and we all appreciate him dearly. I personally feel extremely grateful that I had the chance to meet and learn a lot from him, and words can never describe how much I owe him, Prof. Ershaghi, and USC Viterbi for picking me up whenever I fell down. Now that my academic journey is coming to an end as I am graduating this May, it makes me really proud to be part of this amazing and strongly-bonded Trojan Family that nothing else compares with. Fight on!