About Energy Excursions

Our goal with Energy Excursions is to inspire conversation around global energy challenges and solutions through the development and dissemination of energy-focused curriculum for a variety of STEM high school courses.


The courses at Energy Excursions were created by faculty members at numerous universities, as well as professionals with a range of industry backgrounds and environmental approaches.

Hilary Clement Olson, Project Director 
Associate Professor of Instruction, The University of Texas at Austin
Michael Arthur
Professor of Geosciences, Penn State
Ila Boley
Geoscience Intern, ExxonMobil, Houston, Texas
Paul Bommer
Senior Distinguished Lecturer, The University of Texas at Austin
Kathy Ellins
Education Specialist, The University of Texas at Austin
Zoya Heidari
Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin
Larry Lake
Professor, The University of Texas at Austin
Vanessa Núñez-López
Director, Advanced Remediation Technologies Division, U.S. Dept. of Energy
Jon Olson
Professor, The University of Texas at Austin
Bridget Scanlon
Sr. Research Scientist, The University of Texas at Austin
Dave Yoxtheimer
Hydrogeologist, Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research

Why did the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering develop these courses?​

Our department has a long history of delivering professional development for K-12 teacher. Through the years we have partnered with various organizations to help Texas teachers emphasize the basic science, engineering, and technology that are fundamental to understanding the energy sector in their classrooms. Below is a list of some of our partners throughout the years.

  • UT’s Jackson School of Geosciences
    • Department of Geological Sciences
    • Institute for Geophysics
    • Bureau of Economic Geology
  • Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching
  • UT’s STEM Center
  • Education Service Center Region 13
  • National Science Foundation’s Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences
  • TXESS Revolution program at UT Austin
  • Huston Tillotson University (Special Topics in the Geosciences course for pre-service teachers)
  • GeoFORCE Texas

Energy Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum

We don’t just look at the energy aspect because it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There is an important interrelationship between energy, the environment, and the economy. Our faculty, researchers, and staff have expertise in a broad range of energy and related environmental and economic topics. We bring this breadth to the curriculum.

Helping Students Envision Their Future

As we design each course, we think about not only the curriculum and content standards, but how to enable students to envision themselves in various career opportunities in the energy sector. We emphasize careers through profiles of various Texas scientists and engineers who have made significant impacts on the energy sector, not only in Texas but throughout the world. The signature motto of The University of Texas is “What starts here changes the world.” Students and faculty who decide to continue their education and careers at the university do so because they want to matter in the world. We believe our university gives them the opportunity to accomplish this goal. We hope that we convey a sense of this broader university initiative to teachers and students through our courses. And whatever you decide to invest your time and energy in, do it with gusto so that it matters!

Current Programs in the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering for K-12 Teachers

Hildebrand Petroleum Science & Technology Institute

UT Austin’s Petroleum Science & Technology Institute introduces STEM high school teachers to the latest technological innovations in the Texas oil and gas industry. The petroleum industry has some of the fastest rates of technological change and engineering innovation in the marketplace. A better technical understanding of petroleum science, engineering and technology provides teachers with the foundation to better instruct, inspire and mentor their students for potential opportunities in an industry that provided over 365,000 direct jobs to Texans in 2019.

The five-day summer institute is led by numerous faculty from the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering. It includes hands-on activities and labs, discussion sessions, breakout sessions, and online coursework. Participants have the opportunity to meet faculty and discuss technology, engineering, careers, and other topics in an informal setting. You can find out more about the upcoming institute at our website, pge.utexas.edu

Hildebrand Teacher Leadership Program

Beyond required activities, the Hildebrand Petroleum Science and Technology Institute encourages participants to pursue an exciting and innovative, two-year, mentored journey of professional growth and leadership development - the Hildebrand Teacher Leadership Program. Teachers who choose to participate in the program undertake a series of supported activities that map to ten leadership criteria developed by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers Teacher Education Division. Teachers who successfully complete the two-year Hildebrand Teacher Leadership Program and meet 6 of 10 criteria will receive a certificate of professional development and will be eligible to apply for the Hildebrand Excellence in Leadership Award - Texas STEM Teachers. 

Hildebrand Excellence in Leadership Award - Texas STEM Teachers

Hildebrand Excellence in Leadership awardees receive an expense paid trip to present their leadership activities in STEM teaching related to Petroleum Science and Technology at a geoscience, engineering or education professional society meeting. The meeting will be selected taking into consideration session topics and the academic schedule of awardees. Awards are announced at the end of the academic calendar year.

Energy Excursions is produced at the University of Texas at Austin by Dr. Hilary Olson, assisted by Ila R. Boley.
Additional material provided by Dr. Jon Olson and Dr. Paul Bommer at the University of Texas at Austin, and Dr. David Yoxtheimer at Penn State University.
Web site produced by Disco Learning Media. Site design and production by Jeffrey M. Phillips.