Demand for IT Professionals in Energy Trading Drives New Class at UH Bauer
Behind every energy transaction is an IT professional that makes it happen, and lecturer Ed Bell will show students exactly how in a new Decision and Information Sciences class at Bauer College that teaches energy trading and risk management (ETRM) systems in an interactive lab setting.
The class is the first of its kind at the undergraduate level that trains students on ETRM systems – the software programs that track the trading and movement of energy commodities like natural gas, coal, crude oil, electric power and refined products from source to usage point.
Bell, principal at Artios-Bell and consultant to the energy and utilities industries, says the goal of the class is not to make students traders, but rather to teach them about the industry so they can manage the technology aspect more strategically.
“When I first started out in the industry, there were no formal ETRM systems. Everything was developed on the fly based on whatever the traders needed at the time,” he said. “As the energy industry has evolved and become more sophisticated, so have ETRM systems. There is a real need for IT people who understand how the industry functions and can create solutions that adapt to the ever-changing demands.”
According to Bell, stricter rules for compliance and disclosure and increased emphasis on renewable energy sources are putting higher demands on the need for ETRM systems.
“Also, with possible cap and trade legislation or other regulatory reform, there will be high demand for computer systems that are flexible, such as being able to track emissions credits. All of these things create a groundswell of opportunity in this business,” he added.
The lab applications will focus mainly on natural gas due to the industry’s recent upsurge of activity and optimism about its viability as a sustainable energy source.
The students will spend two-thirds of their time in the lab working with GasPro ETRM software donated by Houston-based company DMS (Data Management Solutions).
Owner Frank Peña, who has more than 30 years experience working in the energy industry, is also donating his time to teach the lab component and is sponsoring the data licenses that accompany the system, a significant contribution from his company.
“With the partnership of Frank Peña and DMS, students will get hands-on exposure to software and tools used by firms,” Bell said. “This experience will set them apart and get them ready for what’s available in the job market, so when our Bauer students go into a job interview with a major energy company, they can say ‘I’ve done that.’”
The class, MIS/SCM 4397-Energy Trading Systems, is open to MIS or Supply Chain majors who are interested in working in the energy industry. The pilot class will have 19 students who meet from 9 a.m.-noon every Saturday.
By Lori Reichardt