In this paper, the focus is on the changes happening in the oil industry and the evolution of new tools and technologies transferred from other fields aiming to make the industry, more efficient and more acceptable to the consumer base. The discussion about the changing trends in petroleum engineering education is primarily focused on the U. S. producers. But some of the observations may equally apply to other national oil producers.
Currently and for the foreseeable future, oil and gas will continue to be the world's primary energy feedstock. This means that petroleum assets are as critical as they have been during the last century to meet the energy demands globally. If the industry continues its mission in providing oil and natural gas resources to the world communities, it will need the services of appropriately skilled professionals. Oil industry hires many technical professionals. At the core, however, there are unique petroleum engineering concepts and domain knowledge that defines the industry and its technology base. It probably fits better in describing the sciences and techniques as a broader base of subsurface engineering1 rather than energy engineering. This particular domain expertise can be gained in depth via formal university degrees or summarily through continuing education courses and augmented with on the job training.
The oil industry is changing, and parallel to that, are the expanded core competencies needed to take new directions. Some major emphasis areas affecting the shape of petroleum engineering education include technology transfer from the fields of information sciences, medical imaging, and human factor engineering. These all influence the core educational preparation of the petroleum engineering professionals. We discuss the history of PTE (petroleum engineering) education and the evolution of the industry and its manpower needs. As an example, we consider the petroleum engineering program at USC and review how, in response to the changing trends in the oil and gas operations, engagement with the industry has been helpful in opening new directions and changes in the academic educational content offered to the graduates. Utilizing case studies and experiences from the USC program, we illustrate the larger trends which have wider application to the industry and to changing the shape of university petroleum education programs.