a research engineer
Chevron produces energy to meet the world’s needs, but Chevron itself is a product of its workforce and ingenuity. The “Day in the Life” series showcases that ingenuity, our Human Energy, at work across the breadth of our businesses. Through this series, we highlight the people that make our company unique, as they give us an insider’s look at their work days and share a bit about their lives at Chevron.
day in the life: research engineer
Ask Yuguang Chen what she does for a living and she’ll simply tell you she uses numerical models to simulate the flow in subsurface reservoirs.
That’s the role of a research engineer working on reservoir flow simulation for Chevron Energy Technology Company. However, in practice, a typical day for a research engineer, like Yuguang, can cover a wide range of activities and settings: doing individual work in her office, meeting with co-workers or field engineers to discuss projects, working in a lab to understand experimental work to provide input to the modeling and simulation, or conducting technical training for reservoir engineers at Chevron.
Yuguang models fundamental recovery mechanisms, and develops simulation modeling and capabilities to provide recovery forecasting to the business units.
We can't see the subsurface underground, but historical data can help further develop recovery strategies. Seismic imaging helps get a picture of the static areas of the reservoir, but the dynamic areas, such as the flow of oil, gas and water, are still variable.
Real-time reservoir surveillance also allows for data mining and analysis to predict the reservoir’s behavior. It is the closest Yuguang can get to understanding what is really going on underground.
"There is a saying in our business: the only certain thing in subsurface modeling is the uncertainty."
Yuguang’s first job was a summer internship with Chevron, which she did while completing her graduate studies at Stanford University. She wanted to be an engineer because both her parents were engineers. The idea of petroleum engineering wasn’t solidified until graduate school.
"The vibrant research environment, the opportunity to work on challenging real-world problems and the impact I could make, all brought me back to Chevron after graduation."
She takes pride in being able to impart her learnings by mentoring summer interns, typically petroleum engineering graduate students, by working on a variety of challenging projects. It is especially rewarding and comes full circle for her when these interns decide to start their professional careers with Chevron.
Published: September 2017