Alumnus brings industry knowledge to petroleum geology classroom

May 2, 2011 By Ole Miss News

For many graduates, giving back to their alma mater generally involves little more than writing a check or arranging to fund a pledge with a credit card. But UM engineering graduate Walter Guidroz decided to go further, offering his time and professional experiences to better prepare future graduates for the job market.

Guidroz, who earned his master's degree in engineering science in 1981, has returned to campus every other week this spring to teach Special Topics in Petroleum Geology (Engr 591)."I've always been interested in giving something back to the university," said Guidroz, who also holds a bachelor's degree from Nicholls State University and a doctorate in oceanography from LSU. "Also, teaching is something that I've always been interested in, and this is a great way to assess whether I'd like to go further in that direction. I feel that because I've been in the business world and done a lot of things in geology, I can show my students that there's a lot of ways you can use your training and knowledge. That can be very valuable."

Guidroz worked for Amoco from 1981 until the company merged with BP in 1999. He was laid off after the merger and took the opportunity to go back to school, earning an MBA from the University of Texas. In 2001, he was offered a job as a staff geologist back at BP and has been with the company since.

His class has proven quite popular with students, said Joel Kuszmaul, chair of geology and geological engineering.

"The students are flocking to his classes and loving the real-world experience and teaching they are getting," Kuszmaul said. Guidroz's industry-specific knowledge and experiences have been very enlightening, said Scott Peacock, a senior geological engineering major from Madison.

"He'll bring things to class and say, 'Here's something that I came across on a project. I want you to interpret it and tell me what you see in it.'" Peacock said. "And then he'll tell us what he saw in it and how he used it in his real job. It's those kinds of things that make this class more geared toward petroleum engineering than a lot of our other classes, which are more general."

The extra time Guidroz has spent working with his students has helped Peacock prepare to enter the job market after graduation in May, he said.

"He used his own time to set up mock interviews for us one weekend," Peacock said. "He showed us what a BP interview would feel like, and he gave all of us feedback on how we did and even gave us some questions that we can ask prospective employers to get a better feel for whether a job is right for us."

The students, on the other hand, have helped give their teacher new insights and energy about his field.

"They're very energetic," Guidroz said. "I marvel at the energy level and also the dedication they have to explore things and complete projects. They definitely take their work seriously."