Meet the Grads, Torey Wright: Finding purpose in engineering at WVU
While in the United Arab Emirates, Torey Wright lived in Abu Dhabi for five years–a city directly across from the Jebel Ali reservoir that powered energy to most of the country. This experience led him to become interested in studying petroleum and natural gas engineering at West Virginia University.
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"Being able to assist people through the perspective of energy was and still is really inspiring to me," Wright said. "I have always wanted to be able to solve problems and understand how problems were solved."
His experience in Abu Dhabi led Wright to petroleum and natural gas engineering, but it was his high school math teacher, Ms. Head, who encouraged him to follow this path.
"With math being one of my strengths in high school, I was encouraged by my math teacher to look at an engineering major for college and I loved it," Wright said. "I hadn't specifically decided which engineering path at that time, but I was motivated and determined to be an engineer."
That motivation led him to the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, where Wright's passion came to life. He attributes his connection with former Statler College students that piqued his interest in WVU.
"The influence students had on me to come here as a high schooler made me feel like I could develop a name for myself instead of just being a number while at Statler College," Wright said.
And Wright did develop a name for himself. He was an avid member of the WVU student organizations National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Petroleum Engineers and American Association of Drilling Engineers. Wright tutored other students on engineering at the Eugene V. Cilento Learning Center and he served as a Statler College Ambassador for the 2021-2022 academic year.
"The former ambassadors from the Statler College encouraged me to come to WVU," Wright said. "They wrote me letters and made me feel like I was already a part of the family before I even toured the campus. I have been able to speak to prospective students and their families that while at WVU, a name can be made for yourself. You won't be seen as a number to get into a university and no longer cared about. Giving those students that sort of hope is important to me."
For three summers, Wright learned about the consulting side of engineering while an intern at The Thrasher Group, a top-ranked multidisciplinary engineering and architectural firm. As a result, Wright took part in several projects discussing his own or other engineer's designs on AutoCAD, GIS Mapping and Google Earth.
He took a design he created on a computer to see the translation from the computer to the field. He also prepared reports and proposal letters for the engineering and architectural firm.
"Several clients would approach a project manager, my supervisor, with an issue, and we would do everything to propose a solution," Wright said. "I was introduced to the reality of engineering outside of the classroom. Often, we have assumptions, or things are expected to go a specific way when in reality, problems within the solution process occur."
Wright said adapting and adjusting while updating clients on these issues in his internships was exceptionally beneficial to his learning growth.
During his sophomore year, Wright traveled to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to represent Statler College on the diverse problem-solving skills of engineers. He also conducted research on experimental evaluation of Marcellus shale properties alongside Kashy Aminian, professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering. He attributes his success to many other professors at WVU.
"The expertise of Ebrahim Fathi and Aminian set the foundation of what I learned as a petroleum engineer," Wright said. "Mehrdad Zamirian, Mohamed El Sgher, Ming Gu and Shahab Mohaghegh have done a stellar job in making sure that we think outside of the lectures to solve problems, which is what engineers do."
Some of Wrights' most memorable experiences at WVU come from meeting the love of his life and his best friends during his freshman year, building a roller coaster in engineering 101 and growing closer with his colleagues by traveling to conferences and networking together.
"The culture and pride the alumni and most students have about this university are unmatched," Wright said. "The ability to network with other students, regardless of their major, is not a challenge. The number of opportunities to build a name for yourself is unlimited here."
For students interested in petroleum and natural gas engineering, Wright said to challenge yourself – don't be scared to take the risk of finding your purpose. The opportunities are limitless, and it would be unfair to you to limit yourself.
After Wright graduates this May, he plans to go directly into the workforce full time to understand common problems in petroleum and natural gas engineering that are currently facing limited solutions or continue his education in the petroleum and natural gas graduate program.
Hear more about Wright’s purpose.
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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