SPE News

In Memoriam: James Smith

This section lists with regret SPE members who recently passed away.

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This section lists with regret SPE members who recently passed away. If you would like to report the passing of a family member who was an SPE member, please write to service@spe.org.

James (Jim) Smith, a longstanding SPE member and an outstanding educator in petroleum engineering, died 7 April. He was 77. Smith was the first freshman to enroll in the newly created department of petroleum engineering at Mississippi State University (MSU) in the fall of 1961. He subsequently received his BS and MS at MSU in petroleum engineering and a PhD from Pennsylvania State University in petroleum and natural gas engineering. After receiving his PhD, Smith joined the petroleum engineering faculty at MSU and taught both undergraduate and graduate courses.

In 1976, Smith was appointed head of the petroleum engineering department at Texas Tech University (TTU). At TTU he continued to teach and train young men and women for professional careers in the petroleum industry until 1996. After leaving the academic world, he was a consultant training engineers for various oil companies.

Over his career, Smith developed several week-long petroleum engineering short courses which he taught as part of the postgraduate training programs for engineers and geologists. These programs were used by several international and domestic oil and gas companies to train their employees. Smith helped educate more than 6,000 students at the university and industry levels. He travelled to more than 20 countries and most major oil-producing states in the US to teach his courses. He taught in Nigeria, Angola, Malaysia, Canada, Bolivia, Venezuela, Egypt, and a number of other countries.

Smith was an active contributor to SPE during his years in academia. He was a member of the JPT Editorial Review, Education Accreditation, Young Member Award, Reservoir Award, and Global Training SPE committees. He was also active at the section level and held officer positions in Mississippi Section and South Plains Section.

Recognizing his superiority in classroom teaching, excellence in research, significant contributions to the petroleum engineering profession, and special effectiveness in advising and guiding students, Smith was awarded the SPE Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty in 1981.