Pioneer Natural Resources and UNT expand MBA horizons

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Reinforcing graduate student learning in the newly developed Energy MBA with a better understanding of operational logistics, Dr. Joe Michels P.E., C.P.L., in conjunction with UNT Institute of Petroleum Accounting Director Harvey Zimmerman, identified an innovative way to teach about resource expenditures in the energy industry.

Professor Zimmerman, employing his vast network of professional contacts in the energy industry, contacted Pioneer Natural Resources to ascertain interest in a graduate student led project that would be both practical for the company and reinforce classroom learning.

 Pioneer identified a logistics related problem which the firm had not been able to address due to workload constraints.  Pioneer officials came to campus and presented the project to Dr. Michels class.  The project involved developing a spreadsheet based automated tool to calculate transportation and related cost of operations in the oil field. MBA student Josef Noebauer described the assignment as “one of the most challenging projects of the MBA program, but also one of the most rewarding.” Working together, students were forced to overcome the obstacles of being part-time students involved in a full-time, semester-long project.

The class faced a myriad of challenges—part time students, most working full time during the day and enhancing their education at night.  Coordinating a variety of time constrained student schedules, all the while being held accountable to an industry partner for a viable, real world solution.  The team developed a spreadsheet-based automated tool used to estimate transportation costs. Pioneer was impressed with the final result. After giving their presentation to a number of Pioneer employees and visiting guests, the very positive consensus was unanimous.

Both Pioneer and Professor Michel’s class left the presentation with newfound perspectives. Pioneer, impressed by the students’ project, now fully intend to implement the spreadsheet to aid and assist in daily operations. Likewise, Noebauer reflected back on the experience by saying that “one of the most rewarding aspects was the feeling that we were making an impact and helping to affect the supply chain in the energy industry.”

Combining tools learned in the classroom with the practical issues of today’s business world, is just one way that UNT students are making a difference and preparing to be leaders of tomorrow. UNT thanks corporate partners like Pioneer Natural Resources for supporting these opportunities to expand student horizons.