Carnegie Mellon University

Barbara Kutchko

November 08, 2018

Kutchko Named SPE Distinguished Lecturer

With three elimination stages, it’s an arduous process to be named a Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) distinguished lecturer. Nearly two-thirds of applicants don’t make it through the nine-month evaluation process.

When Barbara Kutchko (PhD ‘08) learned that she’d made the final cut, she was overjoyed—and immediately began formulating an intense travel schedule that will take her from Kansas to Alaska, India, Greece, and Hungary.

Kutchko is a Pittsburgh-based senior research scientist specializing in wellbore integrity and subsurface environments. She works at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), United States Department of Energy—and applies her experience working with professors Dave Dzombak and Greg Lowry directly to her research at NETL.  

“CEE fostered a well-rounded creativity and was an invaluable part of my research career. It’s a supportive, nurturing place where I learned so much more than just academic skills,” she adds.

As she prepares to embark on her lecture schedule, Kutchko is busy researching international locations where she’ll consolidate five years of research findings into a 30-minute talk. “My presentation topic is on a foamed cement study I led, conducted through a joint effort between the National Energy Technology Laboratory and the API Sub-Committee 10.” It examines the differences between foamed cement slurries generated with laboratory equipment and field foamed cementing equipment. 

Kutchko’s lecturer nomination process began in February 2017 and didn’t conclude until her October 2017 in-person presentation in San Antonio, Texas. “It honestly felt like my PhD dissertation all over again. During the presentations, the committee evaluated different aspects including the overall speaking and presentation style, ability to interact with the audience, and time management. I honestly had no idea whether or not I made it.”
While the pressure is now off, Kutchko states that the real work is just beginning. And she’s relying on the skills she gained at CEE to prepare for the busy months ahead.

“CEE set an example of professionalism, teamwork, and work ethic that I carry with me to this day.” She states that her instructors cared about her success. “They taught me the importance of time management, organization, self-motivation, and teamwork.”