UCLAN student Sara bucks trend by landing award

Sara Al Bulushi receiving her Machinery Failure Prevention Technology (MFPT) 2015 Best Student Paper Award and cheque.
Sara Al Bulushi receiving her Machinery Failure Prevention Technology (MFPT) 2015 Best Student Paper Award and cheque.
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Student Sara Al Bulushi has written herself a place in history by winning a specialist educational prize.

She has become both the first person from outside the USA and the first undergraduate to win the Machinery Failure Prevention Technology (MFPT) 2015 Best Student Paper Award.

She was awarded the accolade for her work on developing a system which would help improve health, environment and safety conditions in the oil and gas industry.

Omani-born Sara presented her research paper at the MFPT 2015 and the International Society of Automation’s 61st International Instrumentation Symposium held in the United States.

She 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.”

The work was supervised by UCLan’s Dr Ahmed Onsy, and described the development of a low-cost advanced gas emissions monitoring system (GEMS) capable of monitoring hazardous gases at oil and gas production sites.

Sara studied well engineering at a university in Muscat and then moved to Preston to continue 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.

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 interest from 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 had three job offers on the back of her international acclaim.