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YP’s Guide to 2018 ATCE: Here’s How to Ace It

With a theme on Big Data, this year’s ATCE has plenty in store for young professionals.


Every year, students, young professionals, consultants, and industry experts gather to attend the Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) hosted by SPE. Attendees come from all around the world and all walks of life to learn, network, and experience what ATCE has to offer. This year ATCE will be held September 24–26, in Dallas, Texas. With a theme on Big Data, this year’s ATCE has plenty in store for young professionals.

What is ATCE?

The Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition is the flagship event of SPE and has a reputation for bringing together thousands of professionals to collaborate and discuss specific topics that propel the industry forward. The event has traditionally been organized in North America but has gained international status over the years. Fig. 1 illustrates attendee geographic distribution for the 2015 conference.

Geographic distribution of the 2015 ATCE attendees. Source: SPE


“ATCE is a beautiful mixture of the demographics: walking around the conference location, you will come across industry legends walking in the hallways, and on the other side you will see energized students who are the future of the industry. The great aspect about the event is the diversity that it encourages. One really gets to feel how international the industry is by meeting people from all around the globe.”

Abdul Saboor Khan, Norwegian University of Science Technology

What it offers?

ATCE has something to offer everyone–engineers, managers, foremen, geoscientists, consultants, students, academics, and executives. To serve as a young professionals’ guide, we have broken down the conference and highlighted a few ATCE opportunities to take advantage of.

Don’t miss the last section of the article, which gives tips on how to handle the anxiety about attending.

Technical Agenda. Every year ATCE explores a defining theme governed by industry trends and future outlooks.  This year’s conference delves into “Big Data,” and explores how data analytics is changing the way the oil and gas industry conducts business and examines its impact on future decision making. For example, the Opening General Session “Translating Big Data into Business Results” will emphasize the use of big data to improve safety and profitability.

There are more than 350 technical presentations covering various areas of technical interest. These presentations will be published as technical papers in OnePetro and the papers are usually available for a fee, but attendees of the conference with full-conference registration get free access to conference proceedings. In addition to technical presentations, young professionals can learn from exhibits. There will be 280+ companies showcasing their technologies.

“I attended the ATCE for the first time in 2017. The exhibition floor was my favorite part. I was looking for vendors for a project. Three of the vendors I ended up using were the companies I met at the exhibit floor.”

Marie Aboagye, Proline Energy Resources

SPE Technical Section Meetings. Several SPE technical sections are organizing symposiums and meetings during the conference. If you are interested in a technical section consider attempting to meet the steering committee members of that section. For instance, the Drilling Uncertainty Prediction Technical Section (DUPTS) is organizing a half-day symposium on the past, present, and future of uncertainty prediction through interdisciplinary research featuring speakers from space, medical, and petroleum industries.

Volunteer Opportunities. SPE is one of the world’s largest volunteer-led organizations. By volunteering your time at ATCE 2018, you will be joining a league of more than 7,500 volunteers. A complete list of SPE volunteer opportunities can be found by clicking this link

Networking Opportunities

“I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 ATCE for my first time. I came to ATCE to represent the European section on the Student Paper Contest (Master’s division), so I got the opportunity to enjoy all the activities prepared for students besides attending the different technical sessions. All of these made me realize that even in hard times, as young professional, one can still feel rewarded for all the work done. My favorite activity during ATCE is all the people you get to know and the links you create." 

Andrea Osorio, Total

ATCE is all about networking, here are some of the networking opportunities for young professionals:

Student Meet and Greet. Connect with students and friends from around the world in the lead-up to ATCE. Special activities at this event help you meet and network with fellow students while learning some valuable skills from guest speakers.

Leadership Workshop. Section and Student Chapter leaders engage and share in a day focused on creating the best member experience. Attendees leave energized with ideas and a support network of fellow leaders. Those participating in this workshop have consistently been recognized as the best in SPE.

University Alumni Receptions. Several universities will hold alumni receptions in conjunction with 2018 ATCE. These events provide excellent opportunities for attendees to visit and get reacquainted with old friends and build new relationships with other professionals.

Women in Energy (WIN) Session. There will be a special session on Wednesday, 26 September organized by the WIN Committee. The primary focus of this session will be gender diversity, with the topic “Gender Diversity – Fueling the Future of Oil and Gas.”

Communication Skills Workshop. This workshop provides tips on communication methods vital for the modern global workplace. Explore different methods of communication, their pros and cons, and how to ensure your message gets heard. 

Special Focus: Startup Village

If you are a budding entrepreneur or always wondered how to take the first step towards entrepreneurship, then this is a must attend event for you.  ATCE Startup Village is a partnership between SPE and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University. The Startup Village consists of the Energy Startup Competition in the morning and expert presentations and table discussions in the afternoon. The registration for this event is included in the standard ATCE registration.

Anxious About Attending?

Whether you love to meet new people or struggle to strike up a conversation with an unfamiliar face, here are some strategies that can help you effectively network.

1. Develop a Game Plan: Plan ahead and give yourself direction

Overcome anxiety about attending the conference by giving yourself an itinerary or a checklist to follow.  Review the conference agenda and exhibit floor pattern to develop an agenda of your own.  Here are a few thoughts that can help you put a plan in place:

  • Is there a technical presentation directly related to your day-to-day work? – Attend it.
  • Are any of the vendors that you work with exhibiting? – Check out their booth.
  • Is there a technology you are specifically interested in? – Learn more about it.

2. Master Small Talk: Ask leading questions
Be an initiator. Like anywhere else, it is always hard to strike a conversation. Once you start, you will realize that people in the industry are extremely friendly and they like to talk and share their experiences. All that is needed is a smile on your face, a firm handshake, and a warm greeting. Try to exchange business cards or other contact info with people, and maybe, who knows, it will be a start of a life-long friendship/partnership.

Small talk can be uncomfortable. It is a good idea to draft some leading questions beforehand. Some leading questions could be:

  • At a technical presentation:
    • Which speakers are you most looking forward to hearing today?
    • Did you run some field experiments to validate your results?
    • Is the technology economical or commercially viable?
  • At the exhibit floor:
    • I am new to this technology; can you go over it with me?
    • What other products and services do you offer?
    • Will you be attending any of the technical presentations?

3. Dress for the Occasion: Leave an impression
You want to make a lasting first impression with people that you meet at the conference.  Dress comfortably and professionally.

No matter if your goal is to expand your network or check out the hottest technologies in the industry, ATCE has something to offer to all attendees. Remember that this year’s theme is big data, so you don’t want to miss what the guest panelists have to say about global market trends and what the industry has in store over the horizon.

Marie Aboagye is a production engineer at Proline Energy Resources. She holds a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Houston.

Abdul Saboor Khan is a student at Norwegian University of Science & Technology, pursuing a master’s degree in petroleum engineering with a specialization in reservoir engineering and petrophysics.

Andrea Osorio is a reservoir engineer consultant at Agap2 France for Total. She graduated from University of Zulia in Venezuela and obtained a scholarship from Total international scholars to pursue the reservoir geosciences and engineering master’s degree at IFP School, France.

The article was sourced from authors by TWA Editors Vikrant Lakhanpal, Radmila Mandzhieva, and Deen Akinrinsola.