What Is the Current Role of Computers in Petroleum Engineering Education, and What Should It Be?
- E.L. Dougherty (U. of Southern California) | I. Ershaghi (U. of Southern California)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 1986
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 197 - 207
- 1986. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 6.5.5 Oil and Chemical Spills, 5.1.5 Geologic Modeling, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 7.5.4 University Curricula, 3.3.6 Integrated Modeling, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 5.5.2 Core Analysis, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 1.14.1 Casing Design, 7.6.6 Artificial Intelligence, 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 4.1.9 Tanks and storage systems, 5.7.5 Economic Evaluations, 5.5 Reservoir Simulation, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training
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Summary. Computer applications in petroleum engineering education have expanded slowly during the last 2 decades. Among the many factors hindering progress have been budgetary constraints of universities, lack of faculty support, interest, and knowhow, and inadequate professionally designed software. With the advent of personal computers professionally designed software. With the advent of personal computers and the ready accessibility of minicomputers, educational use of computers is now bound to increase rapidly. Microprocessors present the practical possibility of improving significantly the training and productivity of possibility of improving significantly the training and productivity of current and future petroleum engineers. Coordinated effort by academic institutions, along with active cooperation by SPE, could substantially increase the extent to which this potential is realized.
Our knowledge of the evolution of computer use in petroleum engineering education is based on a hazy petroleum engineering education is based on a hazy recollection of incomplete data and should be viewed in that context.
Universities have not spearheaded the expanding use of computers to solve complex petroleum engineering problems. In fact, the incorporation of computer training problems. In fact, the incorporation of computer training into petroleum engineering curricula has been pulled along by industry's expanding use of computers. The reason for this is that in the 1960's very few petroleum engineering faculty members were qualified by experience or training to operate in, let alone lead, such a technological development. Furthermore, although a few faculty members may have envisioned the need for computer application, the large sums needed to support the required interdisciplinary effort were simply not available.
The mixture of talents needed to push ahead was brought together in the research laboratories of some of the larger oil companies. Applied mathematicians and theoretical physicists were put to work alongside petroleum and chemical engineers, with the goal of developing the methodology and knowledge needed to take advantage of the evolving capability of stored-program computers. Only a few years were required for these efforts to generate practical results. The first full-scale oilfield simulation study was the modeling of Aramco's Safaniya field and was completed in 1961. Developments after that date were rapid. By the end of the decade, the volume of computerized petroleum engineering calculations was already very large. Until the advent of the microcomputer in the 1980's, computer use was overwhelmingly dominated by two applications: reservoir simulation and economic evaluation.
In this paper, we review historical trends and attitudes of petroleum engineering schools toward computer applications, discuss the state of the art, and suggest a syllabus to take advantage of the potential benefits of computer-aided instruction (CAI) and computer-aided design (CAD) in petroleum engineering education.
The growth of computer use in petroleum engineering education has generally lagged the expanding industrial use of computers. The 1960's through 1973 were years of retrenchment for petroleum engineering schools. Fortunately, some of the growth in industrial computer use did spill over into various schools. Some of this spillage resulted from industry practitioners acting as part-time instructors (e.g., T.D. Mueller at Stanford U. and H.K. van Poollen at Colorado School of Mines). In a few instances, cross-fertilization came from professors working some months in industry (e.g., C. Weinaug at Esso Prod. Research Co.) or experienced engineers moving Prod. Research Co.) or experienced engineers moving from industry into academia (e.g., R.A. Morse to Texas A and M U.). The one outstanding exception to the directionality of flow was the Keith Coats blitzkrieg through Austin, Texas and into the consulting business.
The crude-oil pricing revolution in Oct. 1973 ushered in a golden decade for petroleum engineering education. Practically overnight, industry's demands for petroleum Practically overnight, industry's demands for petroleum engineers far exceeded even the most dedicated educators' bountiful dreams. Starting salaries skyrocketed. Classes overflowed. Because academic salaries were lower than in industry, retaining an adequate faculty was difficult and, in some cases, impossible. Most schools filled the breach with greater use of part-time faculty. This action did not ordinarily provide the ability to expand the course content to incorporate computer use to the extent desired.
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