It's not uncommon to hear about siblings following in each other's footsteps by enrolling at the same university. But the Belyadi siblings didn't just choose West Virginia University - they all chose the same major. Today, they are making a substantial mark on the natural gas industry and the school that they consider home.
The legacy began 15 years ago when Abbas Belyadi enrolled in the Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources after visiting a friend in Morgantown. Abbas came to Morgantown from Kuwait, where the rest of his family remained.
Two years later, his younger sister, Fatemeh, joined him in Morgantown, beginning at WVU in the Intensive English Program, spending three months learning the English language and American culture.
"Adjusting to the United States was a challenge," said Fatemeh. "But the town and school were very welcoming and helpful, which made the transition a lot easier."
Fatemeh had originally planned to attend medical school, having enjoyed her biology courses during high school. That changed after hearing Abbas speak so highly of his professors and courses in PNGE.
"Abbas always had something great to say about what he was doing in class or an experience with a professor," said Fatemeh. "After visiting with some of the PNGE faculty, I decided to switch my focus."
As Fatemeh was beginning her course work in engineering, the next Belyadi, Zeynab, enrolled at WVU, followed closely by younger brother, Hoss. By 2005, all four of the Belyadi siblings were studying petroleum and natural gas engineering at various degree levels, all while living under one roof.
"Living with my siblings made WVU feel like my new home and they were able to help me go through the transition from a young, dependent student to an ambitious and independent professional," said Hoss.
Hoss credits his family and the variety of courses and informational sessions the department offered for helping him reach his lifelong dream of becoming an engineer.
"I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be an engineer," said Hoss. "It started with my love of mathematics and the department really helped steer me in the direction that sparked my interests the most."
"We had classes together, we lived together, we studied together," added Fatemeh. "Having that family atmosphere so far from home really helped and gave us the opportunity to help each other succeed."
And succeed they did. Abbas and Fatemeh both hold bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in petroleum and natural gas engineering, while Zeynab and Hoss hold degrees at the baccalaureate and master's levels.
Abbas is currently working as a reservoir engineer for Alta Mesa Holdings in Houston, Texas, and Zeynab traveled back to Kuwait to work on a joint development project for Schlumberger and Chevron. Hoss works in the greater Pittsburgh area for Consol Energy, specializing in asset evaluation and reservoir engineering, but continues to be a part of the WVU community as an adjunct professor. Fatemeh worked in industry from 2006-2009 after deciding to take a break in schooling, but chose to stay at WVU as a full-time professor after completing her doctorate. Together, the Belyadi family is making its mark on the petroleum and natural gas industry.
"The Belyadis are just great people and great students that thrived at WVU," said Sam Ameri, professor and chairman of petroleum and natural gas engineering. "Having a whole family of bright minds come through says a lot about their experience with and dedication to our program.
"We will feel the benefits of the success of the Belyadis for many years to come," said Ameri. "These are the engineers that will help the United States become energy independent and help teach the next generation of engineers. When they're asked where they learned it all, they will say WVU."
"My family and I feel very much attached to WVU," said Fatemeh. "We have all had such a wonderful experience with Morgantown and the WVU community that we cannot imagine calling anywhere else our home away from home."
For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources:
College Relations office: 304-293-4086
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