Programs in petroleum engineering, or oil and gas engineering, teach students
to design better ways of mining oil and gas.
"Today's petroleum technical engineer uses the most sophisticated electronic
and computer technologies to find and bring to market the oil and gas we need,"
says Charles Bowman. He is a professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A
and M University. "It is an exciting, rewarding and important career."
The first two years in Bowman's program emphasize fundamentals, including liberal
arts, mathematics, chemistry, physics and a five-course sequence of engineering
science, as well as the use of the computer as a problem-solving tool.
The third year focuses on the fundamentals of petroleum engineering -- formation
evaluation, reservoir engineering and management, production, drilling, economics
and investment risk analysis. The senior year emphasizes engineering design
-- including a multidisciplinary team experience working with geoscientists.
Bowman says the curriculum also emphasizes communication skills
and includes courses in the humanities and social sciences. The importance
of teamwork and computers in this industry also is stressed.
It typically takes students four years to earn a bachelor of science degree
in petroleum engineering. The department also offers degrees at the master's
and doctoral levels. In addition, the program offers options for courses in
business administration or minors in other fields of the student's choice.
Most programs offer internships or paid work placements to give
students a taste of what goes on in the field.
"Students should have an interest in and a good understanding of the basic
sciences such as chemistry and physics and mathematics," says Bogdan
Lepski, a former professor of petroleum engineering. "In addition, it is important
they have good people and communication skills."
"Students in this field need to be creative and inquisitive, willing to
work in an industry where much of what they do they will never see, because
petroleum products must be found, reached and produced from miles under the
surface of the Earth," says Bowman.
"They must be willing to accept challenges and to meet them, to take risks
and accept the consequences. They must be ready to face adventure and adversity."
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Petroleum
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