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Senior Spotlight: Ross Teichman

Petroleum Engineering Major Ross Teichman Shares His Honors College Experience

Throughout his almost four years at Louisiana State University, California native and Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College senior Ross Teichman has committed to stepping outside of his comfort zone.

Teichman, who is set to graduate in May, joined LSU and the Honors College in August of 2014. For a petroleum engineering major with a tight schedule, studying abroad, volunteering as an English as a Second Language tutor and founding the Men’s Club Basketball Team has been an exercise in flexibility and leadership.

After being offered the selective Stamps Scholarship and receiving an extensive tour of campus, Teichman knew LSU was a place that would help him excel.

“I felt extremely comfortable with people like my advisors and the Honors College,” Teichman said. “I felt like I was going to be taken care of and have support.”

In the Honors College, Teichman enjoyed his HNRS seminars as both an instructive and entertaining part of his education. The courses provided him with a background in subject matter ranging from colonial art to corporate ethics. “Every single week there’s opportunity for growth,” he said.

Personal and professional growth, Teichman found, came from other avenues outside of the college classroom. At the prompting of Honors College Associate Dean Granger Babcock, Teichman found time to pursue volunteer work in his freshman year as an English as a Second Language tutor for students at McKinley Senior High School in Baton Rouge through the Honors College’s partnership with EBR Parish Schools.

“Being able to see the state of the Louisiana public school system and how much the students are struggling was eye-opening,” Teichman said. “Feeling like you’re helping out gave me a sense of confidence to put myself out my comfort zone. That was pretty important to me in my freshman year.”

Volunteering as an ESL tutor marked a turning point for Teichman, who then decided to push himself further by studying abroad at the end of his freshman year. Teichman traveled to France with LSU in Paris, where he took geology classes with LSU faculty and earned Honors credit. Some of Teichman’s favorite memories of the trip were playing basketball with resident Parisians.

“There was a local basketball court in Paris and so I bought a basketball to play there. That was an entrance into the community a lot of my peers didn’t have,” Teichman said. “Different parts of the world, same interest.” 

Upon his return from Paris, Teichman co-founded LSU’s Club Basketball team. In its first year of existence, the team made it to the regional semi-finals and came in third out of all 36 club and junior college teams competing from across the south.

Over the course of his time in club sports, Teichman was secretary of the volleyball club before becoming president, and founder and vice-president of the basketball club. Teichman then joined two advisory boards that worked with financing student organizations, including the student government's Programming, Support and Initiatives Fund and the Organizations Relief Fund.

“Taking on leadership roles with club volleyball and basketball not only exposed me to the challenges of planning and running a team but also gave me the opportunity to organize volunteer events for both teams for causes that I saw as valuable such as the food bank and the Unified Sports League.”

In addition to pursuing an array of extracurricular activities, Teichman has immersed himself in his thesis work. When not at practice or in class, Teichman spends his time working with fluid simulation software to study pump pressure signatures.

Teichman’s training to prepare him for independent research began freshman year, but he recalls his sophomore year as when he fully realized how his lab work was helping him develop crucial skills. In his second year of research at geomechanics professor Dr. Arash Dahi’s lab, he assisted in repairing a drilling machine that had been broken for 20 years. It was hard work.

“It was a lot of manual labor,” he said. “I was never one to tear apart engines. I never even really played with Legos.”

Teichman remembers the experience as an introduction into the world of lab research that challenged him to solve problems like an engineer and helped him learn basic skills.

“There was a lot of independent thought and trying things out to see if they worked.”

Since then, Teichman has gained field experience through internships at Newfield Exploration and Exxon Mobil. He has had the opportunity to flex his mental muscles to solve real petroleum engineering problems, such as if a current method of cleaning out drilling shafts was effective, or if a chemical injection system would be more cost efficient. Teichman hopes that in his work he can apply what he has learned — from best practices to professional ethics — to do his job well.

“If I am the best petroleum engineer in the world, that means that I am getting oil out of the ground in the most effective, economic way,” Teichman said. “But it also means that I am doing the most for the environment. I want to be able to transfer my morals into my job.”

Next year, Teichman will be working in Midland, TX with XTO Energy (a subsidiary of ExxonMobil) as an Operations Engineer. He will be working to optimize well production and completions.

As for his parting advice to his fellow Honors students, Teichman says not to obsess over getting an A-plus in every class and go join organizations that spark your interest.

“Make sure you try and find what you’re interested in. That’s the best way to meet people. Go get involved in something you’re passionate about and you’ll meet other passionate people that relate to you.”

Story by Sarah Procopio.