UCLan student makes history

09 October 2015

Sara Al Bulushi becomes the first non-American to win a specialist educational award

Sara Al Bulushi receiving her Machinery Failure Prevention Technology (MFPT) 2015 Best Student Paper Award and $500 cheque.

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student has made history by winning a specialist educational prize.

Sara Al Bulushi has become both the first person from outside the United States of America and the first undergraduate to win the Machinery Failure Prevention Technology (MFPT) 2015 Best Student Paper Award.

The Omani student was chosen for her work on developing a system which would help enhance health, environment and safety conditions in the oil and gas sector.

Sara, who presented her research paper at the MFPT 2015 and the International Society of Automation’s 61st International Instrumentation Symposium held in the US, said: “It was a complete shock to be named as the winner but I’m absolutely thrilled and delighted that my research has been recognised at this level. To be the first non-American and the first undergraduate is simply amazing.”

Her research, which was supervised by UCLan’s Dr Ahmed Onsy, described the development of a low-cost advanced gas emissions monitoring system (GEMS) capable of monitoring hazardous gases at oil and gas production sites. The system output utilises wi-fi, GPRS and global system for mobile communications data transmission to provide information to control rooms and other monitoring sites using the Cloud space concept.

Sara studied well engineering at a university in Muscat and then continued her studies at UCLan. The inspiration for her research came from her well engineering background and her concern for the environment due to high levels of gas emissions at oil and gas sites.

“To be the first non-American and the first undergraduate is simply amazing.”

She said: “The oil and gas industry involves an extensive variety of operations and supplies, and is a major source of gas emissions. Gases emitted from oil and natural gas extraction operations may be extremely toxic.

“The proliferation of these gases in air creates an unsatisfactory and risky working environment for crew at rig sites, and prolonged exposure may lead to serious long-term health problems.

“My system is unique because it transmits the data wirelessly using the Cloud space concept. For example, if you have a company headquartered in Oman with branches in other parts of the world, you can see the data related to gas emissions in those locations from the main company.”

She added that another unique feature of the system is the fact that the data can be transmitted to several users, including driller’s console, rig manager, the head office and health, safety and environment (HSE) staff.

“When there is a leak or the gas emission level is above the allowable average standard, a text message will be sent to the HSE staff so that they can evacuate the place,” she explained. According to her, the system is working in the UK and she plans to introduce it in the oil and gas sector in Oman as well.

Her research has also attracted the attention of University academics and potential employers. Her graduation project, entitled ‘Development of an Advanced Gas Emissions Monitoring System for Oil and Gas Production Sites’ was awarded a First and she received the School’s Outstanding Achievement Award. She has also received three job offers on the back of her international acclaim.