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David Ferris to Lead the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Energy Solutions

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Energy Executive David Ferris to Lead the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Energy Solutions at OU’s Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy

NORMAN, OKLA. – David Ferris, a University of Oklahoma alumnus with experience developing multi-billion-dollar strategic plans for large energy-related corporations, has been named the inaugural director of the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Energy Solutions in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy at OU.

First envisioned by alumnus Ronnie K. Irani, the Irani Center for Energy Solutions provides OU students the opportunity to participate in real-world, real-time industry projects. As the Center’s new director, Ferris is expanding the Irani Center’s focus to also include community engagement initiatives and the Energy Institute of the Americas, the college’s professional energy education and development department.

Ferris holds a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering and a master’s degree in natural gas engineering from the Mewbourne College, as well as a master’s degree in business administration from the Price College of Business at OU. He earned a doctorate in organizational change and leadership from the University of Southern California. For the past 11 years, Ferris has served on the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering Industry Advisory Board and was chairman from 2017 to 2019.

“With degrees in energy-related engineering fields and business, I share Ronnie Irani’s strong affinity for how we think about energy, how we think about business and how we combine those to really power the future of our industry,” explained Ferris.

In addition to his involvement with large corporations, Ferris also has worked with smaller companies, serving in a number of roles, including drilling, completion and production operations to reservoir engineering and collaborating with geoscientists on new prospect development.

“Coming out of the last 20 years, I’ve learned how to operate like a small company where every dollar and every minute matter. However, my experience in large companies has given me a perspective of the massive scale and integrated planning needed in unconventional energy endeavors to provide a meaningful return for stakeholders,” said Ferris.

It is that combination of experience that Ferris hopes to leverage for OU students and the community. He looks forward to sharing with students his unique experiences in the industry, which began during a college internship when he worked in the field as a roustabout.

He is already making a difference in the three focus areas for the Irani Center for Energy Solutions.

Practical Experience

Since its inception in 2018, the Irani Center for Energy Solutions has provided practical experience to students at the university by partnering with companies to provide projects for student teams. The Irani Center now houses the capstone course taken by all petroleum engineering seniors. In previous years, capstone projects were often scenarios created by faculty or previous situations faced by companies.

Thanks to new industry partnerships established by Ferris, the spring 2020 semester marks the first time that 100% of the student groups will work directly with energy companies to assess real-world, real-time projects.

“Going forward, our seniors will be evaluating fields through the eyes of the industry and, in many cases, the student output will lead to commercial transactions, allowing students to see market validation for their work,” said Ferris. “We believe experience leads to opportunities, and our graduates will be well prepared to lead our industry.”

Community Engagement

Ferris wants the Irani Center for Energy Solutions to engage in meaningful dialogue about the importance of energy and stewardship on the OU campus and throughout the region.

“Oftentimes, public discourse becomes uncivil and clouded by polarizing rhetoric. Our hope is to reframe the conversation from talking about problems to working toward solutions which steward our resources and provide energy and opportunity to all,” Ferris stated.

Professional Development

For the past 25 years, the Energy Institute of the Americas has provided professionals with energy education and development opportunities to people around the world. Ferris and his team are offering courses ranging from Petroleum Engineering for Non-Engineers to Advanced Machine Learning for Reservoir Characterization – popular with business, law and geosciences professionals – while also working with local businesses to identify knowledge gaps and retool existing courses.

“Under David’s leadership, we are expanding on the EIA’s decades of success and to provide even more continuing education opportunities in the areas of petroleum engineering and geosciences for all manner of professionals,” said Mike Stice, dean of Mewbourne College.

Ferris is excited about the growth potential of the Irani Center as it moves toward developing partnerships with students and industry to enhance knowledge, advance careers and provide greater opportunities for all.

More information about the Irani Center can be found at