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PetroBowl Expands Focus on Human Factors

SPE’s Human Factors Technical Section worked to create new questions for the competition’s regional qualifiers.

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This year, PetroBowl has expanded the focus on human factors by adding questions generated by the SPE Human Factors Technical Section (HFTS) to the regional qualifiers. This means nearly 1,000 students across the globe will be required to learn about human factors.

In 2021, the questions were added to the PetroBowl finals. More than 150 students became familiar with the human factors industry guidance in preparation to answer questions in the competition.

“Adding the human factors questions to the regional qualifiers not only allows students to successfully prepare for the competition finals but also builds an awareness about the various topics that are not taught at the universities,” said Marcin Nazaruk, the chair of the SPE Human Factors Technical Section. (Should engineering students learn about human factors at universities?.)

The questions cover a variety of topics such as basic terminology, human factors in design and automation, and many others.

Here are three questions used in the 2021 finals. Would you be able to answer them? (Please note that the competition rules require phrasing questions in a way that can be answered with one, verifiable answer. The answers are at the end.)

1. What type of failures are usually hidden within an organization until they are triggered by an event likely to have serious consequences?
2. How many levels or stages does situation awareness have?
3. To reduce human error, accidents, and ill-health tasks, equipment and workstations should be designed to suit the ___________ (Fill in the blank).

“SPE HFTS members are actively engaged in PetroBowl Question Writers’ team and preparing new human-factor-related questions both for regional qualifiers and final championship,” said Aleksandra Khramtseva, student liaison director leading the effort to integrate the questions into the PetroBowl.

The questions are based on freely available industry guidance from organizations such as the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, the Energy Institute, and the UK Health and Safety Executive.

To help students prepare for PetroBowl, the SPE HFTS also has created the first database of free industry publications, covering more than 300 documents in more than 40 categories published by more than 20 organizations. And the section also is working closely with the SPE Young Member Engagement Committee on adding the resources and links to the suggested list of study materials.


  1. Latent
  2. Three
  3. Humans (workers/people accepted also)