This paper presents a critical review and evaluation of petroleum engineering curricula of leading schools in the USA and the Middle East, and examines their adequacy for coping with technological developments and future industry needs. Potential changes to curricula structures and content are presented and examined considering the current industry emphasis on shale gas development. A proposal to establish an SPE accreditation system for petroleum engineering progams worldwide is also presented.
The objective is to set the stage for petroleum engineering educators and industry to jointly plan for and engage in taking decisive actions to improve petroleum engineering education.
A quick review of petroleum engineering curricula shows that we have been using the same structure and content for decades. While the industry is developing and adopting new technologies at a rapid pace, petroleum engineering education has experienced very little changes. While a limited number of courses experienced some changes such as including horizontal, multilateral and under balanced drilling in drilling engineering courses, the majority of courses are still using the materials developed in the 1960's. No curriculum adequately addresses the very important shale gas developments; indeed, many petroleum engineering faculty are not familiar with this area.
It is essential that both industry and academia collaborate to determine and prioritize industry needs and the ways to develop petroleum engineering education to meet these needs.