Preventing Technical Obsolescence in Petroleum Engineers and Scientists
- E.T. Guerrero (The U. Of Tulsa) | S.J. Martinez (The U. Of Tulsa)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- September 1962
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 931 - 934
- 1962. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.3.1 Hydrates, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 3.2.4 Acidising, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.3 Dehydration, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.6 Natural Gas
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Current technological advances in every branch of science and engineering are developing at an unprecedented rate. In the petroleum industry, improvements in operating techniques and equipment are last making conventional methods obsolete. Keeping up-to-date with the many new developments reported in worldwide technical society papers, trade journals and patents presents petroleum engineers and scientists a practically insurmountable task. Rapidly developing techniques for information dissemination and retrieval are designed to meet this need. Many oil companies have organized information centers that review current technical literature, evaluate and condense pertinent technical information, and distribute it to all interested personnel. Some of the beneficial results reported by these companies include stimulating interest in current published information, uncovering valuable leads to new exploration and production techniques, eliminating costly duplication of research effort and providing a comprehensive reference file for retrospective searching. Cooperative abstracting services provide many of these benefits at an economic savings to participating firms.
Are the petroleum engineers and scientists of today in danger of becoming obsolete? Are the young engineering and science graduates, fresh from college, better equipped technologically to solve the technical problems of the petroleum industry? Unfortunately, in many cases this is the situation. Although lacking in experience, the young graduated enter the petroleum industry with a knowledge of many of the most recent advances in petroleum technology whereas the "veteran" engineers and scientists may still be operating on the basis of principles and techniques in vogue 5, 10, 20 or more years ago. However, the newcomers do not retain this advantage long. Petroleum technology is changing so rapidly that they, too, are soon out-of-date unless they take special precautions to avoid it. The obvious answer to this problem is that the competent scientist or engineer is not satisfied to rest on his laurels. Through study of current technical society publications and trade journals, attendance at technical meetings both regional and local, and other self-improvement efforts, he keeps himself up-to-date on the most recent technological advances in his field. This is referred to as "current awareness". Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. For the average technologist today, time is at a premium. Reduced engineering staffs and increased individual work loads have cut his free time on the job to practically zero, while the knowledge that he needs to keep himself up-to-date is mushrooming at an ever-increasing rate. Even though he may be willing to use off-job time and sacrifice fellowship with his friends and family, he is brought up short by what has been termed "The Information Explosion".
Research and Development Growth
What has caused the current flood of technical and scientific information? Basically, it is the natural result of man's learning how to put scientific knowledge to work, and how to make use of other people's scientific experience. Since the end of World War II, a tremendous expansion has occurred in all branches of technological achievement. It is hard to realize that such common-place items as television, formation fracturing, electronic computers, miscible-phase displacement and atomic reactors have all evolved during the last decade. Yet these advances represent only a few of the fruits of research, which has been soaring at a tremendous pace. Half of the $85 billion spent on research and development in the United States since 1941 has been spent during the last four years. By 1975, it is estimated that the annual expenditure for research will have swelled to more than $25 billion per year. Over the next 15 years, American business and government will spend over $250 billion, just to discover and perfect new products and processes. The rapid expansion of technology has been mirrored by the increasing number of technical journals that have come into being. The earliest surviving journal is the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, first published in 1665. By 1750, 10 technical journals were in existence.
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