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Laura L. Langer

Petroleum Engineer

Dinosaurs attracted Laurie Langer to earth science. At the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, she saw dinosaur bones and also remembers a special exhibit on petroleum that she visited several times when she was nine years old. She first decided to be an earth scientist when she bought a rock hammer when she was ten! She changed her interests many times between then and when she got her master of science degree in petroleum engineering at age 27. As an undergraduate she changed her major several times from biology to chemistry to geology, but she finished in math because it was the only thing she could finish in one year. She then got a Master of Science degree in math at the University of Colorado and was working on a graduate degree in education at Stanford University when she began tutoring a petroleum engineering student in math. She decided she liked what he was taking better than her own classes and changed majors once again from education to earth science.

Laurie has had a variety of jobs including staff reservoir engineer, field engineer, senior engineer, teacher, division manager, and department head. Currently, she is Manager of Reservoir Engineering at Equitrans, Inc., an interstate natural gas pipeline company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She supervises a diverse technical group including a geologist, two engineers, a lawyer, four computer scientists and two people who are in charge of buying land for the company. The group is responsible for the maintenance and development of the company's resources - reserves, wells, storage reservoirs and computer software. The problems they are trying to solve and disciplines they use include: devising efficient operating strategies for the underground storage of natural gas (reservoir engineering); developing reserves of natural gas and oil on a large property in the Appalachian Basin (geology); and tracking information and administrative data (computer science). She likes her work because it is challenging. She participates in the formulation of the company's business plan and strategic planning. Her job requires analytic problem-solving skills as well as conceptual thinking.

If you are interested in an earth science career, she suggests you take all the math and science you can in high school plus history, art and other electives to expand your intellectual interests and analytic skills. She is married and has four children ages 7 to 18 and says that balancing family life and a career is definitely possible! Growing up in a family of ten children with both parents working professionally (a teacher and an engineer), it never occurred to Laurie that you couldn't both work and raise a family. She has been pregnant in school and at work and while traveling overseas and recommends having children while in school, but adds that one needs to find a supportive mate.