Hannah Capponi ’17, chemical engineering
Pioneer Natural Resources, Irving, Texas. Department: Sustainable Development
Hannah Capponi ’17 worked at Pioneer Natural Resources, headquartered in Irving, Texas, during her summer of 2015 internship. Pioneer is headed by a longtime UPOP mentor, Tim Dove ’78, president and COO. Since 2010, 23 UPOP students have interned at Pioneer, three more are heading there for the summer of 2016, and there are now five UPOP alums working at Pioneer full time.
“My project was to create a time-dependent pressure model of separation and storage facilities, called tank batteries, using VBA, Excel’s coding language.
“When pressures in the storage tanks get too high, it becomes possible for the system to vent gas to the atmosphere. The department was interested in minimizing this in an effort to reduce environmental impact and to collect gas that could be vented. I visited a bunch of different sites in Midland, Texas, at the beginning of the summer in order to understand the operation of the facilities and then spent most of my summer creating a computer model to simulate the pressure fluctuations of the storage tanks that result from variable oil dumps, gas flashes and pressure relief valves.
“The UPOP curriculum was useful for teaching me the importance of effective communication and the power of networking. While my project was independent, I was constantly interacting with other people, asking questions and learning from those around me. Getting to speak to a wide array of professionals and hearing their advice helped me make the most of my summer experience.
“I am thankful for UPOP because it connected me with a company that returns to MIT and the program specifically because of how well it prepares students for the professional world. I might not have had the opportunities that were available to me this summer at a company like Pioneer if I had not participated in UPOP.”