Dean's Distinguished Lectures

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CEMSE Dean's Distinguished Lecture: Power that Enables Human Life in the Machine

Start Date: March 14, 2018
End Date: March 14, 2018

By Professor Tadeusz Patzek
Center Director, Ali I. Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center, KAUST
I try to answer the 1897 questions by Paul Gauguin: “D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous? Where do we come from / What are we / Where are we going?) I follow these questions in the context of human genetics, behavior, and history. What dominating factors have created the civilization into which we were born? I explain the importance of mass fluxes and power flows through all parts of the global economy, and discuss how they relate to the well-being of nations. No machine can be manufactured and operated without an environment rich in power (as in work per unit time). This power comes from the fossil, nuclear, renewable, draught animal, and human labor sources. I explain current and future power requirements of the global networks of computers, sensors, actuators, etc. I investigate how these networks might grow with time exceeding the physical capacity of the planet to deliver the necessary electrical power and material resources to manufacture, operate, and connect the network components.
Biography: Tadeusz (Tad) Patzek is Director of the Ali I Al‐Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center and Professor of Petroleum and Chemical Engineering at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Until December 2014, he was the Lois K. and Richard D. Folger Leadership Professor and Chairman of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin. He also held the Cockrell Family Regents Chair #11. Between 1990 and 2008, he was a Professor of Geoengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining Berkeley, he was a Senior Reservoir Engineer at Shell Western E&P in Bakersfield, CA (1989‐1990), and a Senior Research Scientist at the venerable Shell Development Bellaire Research Center (BRC) in Houston, TX. (1983‐1989). Patzek is also a Presidential Full Professor in Poland (highest honor) and a Distinguished Member of the SPE. By education, he is a chemical process engineer and a physicist trained in catalysis and computational fluid mechanics. In 1983, at BRC, Professors Larry Lake and Gary Pope introduced Patzek to petroleum engineering, and his life was never the same. Patzek has engaged in the studies of complex systems, focusing on the human factors in ultra‐ deepwater offshore operations. He briefed Congress on the BP Deepwater Horizon well disaster in the Gulf, and was a frequent guest on NPR, ABC, BBC, CNN, and CBS programs. In January 2011, Patzek became a member of the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee for the Department of Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). He co‐ wrote a popular book with a famous historian, Joseph Tainter, "Drilling Down: The Gulf Debacle and our Energy Dilemma." In late 2014, the Committee’s recommendations resulted in the creation of the Offshore Energy Safety Institute in partnership among Texas A&M and the University of Houston and UT Austin, and Patzek as a coPI. In 2014, Patzek and his colleagues, Prof. Michael Marder and Mr. Frank Male, received the Cozzarelli Prize from the National Academy of Sciences for the best paper in engineering in 2013, "Gas production in the Barnett Shale obeys a simple scaling law." For the last 6 years, Patzek has maintained a blog writing about the environment, ecology, energy, complexity, and human activities. This blog has had 325,000 unique readers. Patzek coauthored some 250 papers and reports, and wrote five other books, one of which is submitted for publication. His citation index can be found here:

More Information:

For more info contact: Prof. Elmootazbellah N. Elnozahy : email:
Date: Wednesday 14th Mar 2018
Time:12:00 PM - 01:00 PM
Location: Building 9, Lecture Hall 2, Room 2325
Refreshments: Light Lunch will be available at 11:45 am