Expanding BP’s tech pipeline

students standing by elephants

BP America offered two computer science students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) internships during the spring semester to work with Information Technology & Services teams at BP’s downtown Chicago location. Chicago serves as the headquarters of BP’s North American fuels business, including its U.S. pipelines business, while also housing one of the company’s most important trading hubs.

The internships are part of the university’s City Scholars program where the City of Chicago and UIUC partnered to encourage graduates from the distinguished Grainger College of Engineering to remain in Chicago, rather than leave for the West Coast. The Spring 2019 City Scholars program selected 57 students out of 200 applicants. According to the university, the City Scholars program can identify, hire and retain some of the world’s most talented engineers and computer scientists to build Chicago’s tech workforce.

As part of the program, students lived in the city to experience Chicago’s museums, parks, great restaurants and sporting events. The interns worked 20 hours a week onsite at the downtown offices while continuing to take classes.

“Working at BP this semester has been an amazing experience; I was able to apply the skills I have learned in class in a real-world setting,” said spring intern Jason Gong. “My manager gave me meaningful projects to work on, which will be deployed and used by BP employees.”

This experience was invaluable to the students, but also beneficial to BP and continues the company’s longtime partnership with the University of Illinois. Eric Penney, IT&S solutions manager for IST Global Oil, noted that the interns worked on projects that have real, measurable value for BP. “BP provided the interns with projects and deadlines critical to our businesses. The experiences they gained by working with a top 10 Global 500 company with our diverse opportunities will propel their careers,” explained Kurt Wysock, IT&S data engineer who managed intern Danny Rosen.   

“Working at BP has helped me grow my technical skills immensely,” said Rosen. “I had the opportunity to work closely with and learn from my boss, who has over 30 years of industry experience. I really enjoyed getting to complete a project from scratch to fulfill a business need.”

While living in the Windy City, students enjoyed a Cubs game and behind-the-scenes tours at O’Hare and the Museum of Science and Industry, which will ultimately help them decide if Chicago is a place they would like to live after graduation.  

BP has a been in partnership with UIUC for many years and will open a new information technology center at the university to help develop sustainable IT solutions and continue to expand BP’s IT talent pool. There, students will work closely with BP’s technology experts to develop proof-of-concept prototypes for digital solutions. Bryan Copeland, a BP technologist, will serve as the center’s site leader working on student recruitment, training, mentorship and delivery of innovative solutions.

BP plans to continue leveraging the distinguished talent pool from University of Illinois by offering more internships after this successful pilot, matching BP’s top technology talent to support our technology skill demand.

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