A team from BYU’s Department of Geological Sciences brought home the championship of the 2011 Society of Exploration Geophysicists’ Challenge Bowl. Geology students Matt Davis and Forrest Roberts teamed together to win the Challenge Bowl title for the first time in BYU’s history.
The SEG Challenge Bowl is the premier university level geophysics competition for college students. Top geophysics students from across the world qualified in regional competitions to compete in the international competition held September in San Antonio, Texas.
Davis and Roberts qualified in March to represent the western US in the world finals after defeating the Colorado School of Mines. Their all-expenses-paid journey to San Antonio provided them not only the opportunity to compete among top geophysics students but to network with leading industry professionals.
“If you’re involved in geophysics, you come to this thing,” Roberts said. “It’s a huge convention. . . . It’s a really good opportunity to just meet and network with people.”
The competition is similar in format to Jeopardy and features questions related to geology, geophysics and the history of the SEG. Participants must buzz in correct answers to questions before their opponents.
Davis and Roberts drew upon the knowledge they gained in their geology classes at BYU to prevail over Nigeria in a landslide victory during the final round. The BYU team also knocked out five of nine teams during the first round of the international competition.
By winning the international competition, Davis and Roberts brought home $1,000 and the opportunity to interview with ExxonMobil, a leader in the energy industry.
“It was interesting too,” Davis said, “because a lot of the recruiters had gone to the competition itself, and several of them had made the comment of ‘Wow, those were tough questions. I couldn’t even answer most of them.’ It was really flattering in that sense to hear that what we were doing was pretty difficult in terms of the questions that were asked.”
Both Davis and Roberts give credit to BYU’s geology program, which provided the preparation that allowed them to compete internationally.
“I think it’s fantastic for the department because this is worldwide recognition, not only to demonstrate BYU’s proficiency in geology but that its students have a place in geophysics as well,” Davis said.