Geology alum reaps rewards of never-give-up attitude
Monday, February 15, 2021
Craig Mauldin credits Oklahoma State with teaching him how to become a successful petroleum geologist – a career he worked in for 18 years - but he also learned lessons that weren’t included in his lectures.
“The most important thing I learned was integrity and perseverance,” Mauldin said. “You think that you're really smart and you get there and everybody's as smart as you or smarter. It teaches you humility. Then on top of that, integrity and perseverance are needed. That's how I graduated. I went through a lot to get both of my degrees. I would say perseverance is the most important thing I learned at Oklahoma State.”
Mauldin, who earned a 1996 bachelor’s and 2003 master’s degree in geology, graduated from Shawnee High School and began to look at colleges with the influence of his friends and family.
“Everybody that I went to school with and everybody in my family were University of Oklahoma fans and went to OU,” Mauldin said. “When it came time for me to decide, it was a strange experience with the OU recruitment process.”
Mauldin’s lack of interest in OU led him to an OSU recruitment meet and greet in Oklahoma City, where he picked up brochures and spoke with representatives from OSU’s different colleges, including the College of Arts and Sciences.
“They said, ‘We'd really love for you to come to Oklahoma State. Just come up and visit.’ They were a lot friendlier,” Mauldin recalled. “I went up on campus and it was just gorgeous with the library and pond and all that stuff. Also, when I went up there, it was crowded. I was like, ‘Man, I love this place. This is so cool!’”
Mauldin began his freshman year wanting to be an engineer and immersed himself in difficult classes. After an aggressive course load and being away from home for two semesters, he transferred to a junior college and then entered the workforce without finishing his degree.
“I was a warehouse janitor and dug ditches,” Mauldin said. “I worked in construction. At that point, I knew I needed to go back to college.”
Mauldin had been a canoe guide the summer after his freshman year and knew that he liked being outside. He took an ACT survey and it suggested he be a park ranger, nuclear physicist or geologist.
“With geology, you could get a job and you would make pretty good money,” Mauldin said. “I said, ‘I think that’s what I need to do.’ I went back to Oklahoma State and went to a geology class. It was a good fit. It seemed like I scored really well on all the exams and all the homework and everything else. It just seemed like it clicked.”
Mauldin’s journey to graduation wasn’t easy, but his determination got him to where he wanted to be.
“Perseverance is probably the story of my life,” he said. “I just kept going and didn’t call it quits.”
Mauldin landed his first job out of college with the help of his professor and thesis advisor, Dr. Gary Stewart.
“He’s the reason why I became a geologist,” Mauldin said. “He was my freshman year Intro to Geology professor. I was so amazed with him. I did well in his class, but I was so amazed that I had to do well. I wanted to take all the classes he taught because he was renowned.”
Stewart connected him with an OSU alum who represented Mannix Oil, a Tulsa-based company.
"At the time, only one company was effectively recruiting OSU, so I was lucky to get an independent to hire me," Mauldin said. "It was very hard to get a job out of college because there was a slump in the oil industry from 1985 until 2007. It was tough. But this alum was looking for someone that didn't really have a family and that could stay in the field all the time. So, I got my first job drilling horizontal coalbed.”
From there Mauldin went on to work in Houston, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Williston, North Dakota. And with each location, he found many great successes.
“I found a reservoir or a new landing zone when I worked at Devon in the Barnett Shale which is in the Fort Worth Basin,” Mauldin said. “I was one of the first geologists that drilled horizontal coalbed methane.”
Mauldin is also proud of his master’s degree, which he considers to be one of his greatest accomplishments, along with having a family.
You can find him on Facebook as Craig Mauldin.