Energy Excursions

Can Potatoes Power the Planet?

Now that we have a better perspective on the energy required for luxury items like a hot shower, we can see that we are often unaware and take for granted the energy we demand. In order to meet those needs modern society and our standard of living depend heavily on energy, machines, and ingenuity of both engineers and scientists. Powering the planet through human or potato potential would just not work when we consider our current American lifestyle, and the lifestyle that many other countries aspire to in the future.

Let’s relax a moment with our new-found understanding by watching a video summary of our energy activity, featuring Dr. Jon Olson, Chair of the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. 

Career Spotlight: Dr. Jon Olson

Academic Background

  • PhD in Applied Earth Sciences from Stanford University (1991)
  • B.S. in Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences from the University of Notre Dame (1984)

Dr. Jon Olson serves as the Lois K. and Richard D. Folger Leadership Chair and Frank W. Jessen Professor in the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. His current research focuses on production optimization and environmental issues related to hydraulic fracturing. Dr. Olson’s other research interests include integrated reservoir characterization, unconventional resources, natural gas engineering, and reservoir geomechanics. In 2019 he received the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Regional Faculty Award and the SPE Distinguished Member Award. Dr. Olson enjoys geologic field work and wellsite work, and regularly works with undergraduate and graduate students in the field. He has worked at UT since 1996, and has prior industry experience with Mobil Oil.  

Dr. Jon Olson with a group of UT undergraduates in the field during a study abroad program in Norway. 
Oklahoma Academic Standards
TEKS Standards
College Board Units and Topics
Next Generation Science Standards