Will Today's Petroleum Engineering Graduate Meet Tomorrow's Challenge? - A Panel Discussion
- Fraser H. Allen (Pan American Petroleum Corp.) | Murray F. Hawkins Jr. (Louisiana State U.) | C. Drew Stahl (Pennsylvania State U.) | Thomas C. Frick (The Atlantic Refining Co.) | Carl Gatlin (U. Of Texas)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- May 1962
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 458 - 462
- 1962. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 7.5.4 University Curricula, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.6 Natural Gas, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
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In the past, when the industry year after year was outdoing itself in drilling and expansion, our petroleum engineering schools turned out adequate numbers of well-trained engineers with the heavy emphasis on the "know-how" of the industry. The future, with its greater uncertainties, is going to require more creative thinking. Petroleum engineering, certainly as it will be practiced even more so in the future, is a very indirect science. We cannot even get in direct contact with the oil and gas in their native reservoirs. We can only deal with indirect readings and conduct operations from the surface of the ground which we hope will have certain effect at depth. Does our present petroleum engineering curriculum adequately recognize this?
First, our mathematics is still generally taught as a mental discipline rather than as a tool. Fortunately, some of our schools are now teaching more finite mathematics. Mathematics taught in our engineering schools should be closely keyed to the realization that our future engineering will be done more and more by computer. Secondly, this business of drilling and producing oil and gas is a risk industry. Theoretical conditions of risk are interwoven in the fields of stochastics and probability; yet, nowhere in the petroleum engineering curricula familiar to this writer is there any required course in probabilities and statistics. Engineers within our organization who have had formal academic training in this field received it at government expense through postgraduate meteorological instruction. There has been too much tendency to "water down" courses from other departments so that the petroleum engineering student can pass them. This has been a problem particularly with regard to physical chemistry and some of the electrical engineering courses. The petroleum engineering curriculum should be one of the toughest in the engineering school. If it is not, the graduate of a petroleum engineering school will find it increasingly difficult to find a job in the oil and gas producing industry. We also have been hoodwinked by some of our own state legislatures into requiring our engineering students to spend a disproportionate number of the very limited semester hours available in the four-year curriculum in the study of high school history and government courses.
Caliber of Faculties
Let us move on now to a brief review of another point that has a bearing on our subject with regard to the adequacy of present-day petroleum engineering education. This is the problem of the caliber of faculties who teach petroleum engineering. First, we shall review the situation with regard to publications. If you pick up the professional publications of other Founder Engineering Societies, you find that from 80 to 90 per cent of the papers seem to have been written by engineering faculty members. Even in the AIChE publication known as Chemical Engineering Progress, which is primarily an operating journal, nearly half of the published papers come from faculty members.
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