Petroleum Engineering Education - Challenges and Changes for the Next 20 Years
- J.C. Cunha (The University of Alberta) | Luciane B. Cunha (The University of Alberta)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, 26-29 September, Houston, Texas
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2004. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 5.7.5 Economic Evaluations, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 7.5.4 University Curricula, 5.3.1 Flow in Porous Media
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This article indicates some basic knowledge and skills that should be present on the education of today's petroleum engineering students. Concurrently it presents some thoughts and points out directions for petroleum engineering education in the next few decades.
The importance of interaction between petroleum engineering schools and the oil industry is analyzed and some directions to improvement of this relationship are given.
The challenge and importance of attracting better and brightest students are commented and some suggestions related to how schools and industry should jointly participate in the efforts to keenly achieve this goal are listed.
"Petroleum engineers make the world run." This proud quote, extracted from the Society of Petroleum Engineers' website indicates how highly we regard our career and, at the same time, indicates how important it should be the educational process that will prepare the next generation of engineers to fulfill the industry needs.
Petroleum engineering, as a formal academic course, is about to complete its first century1. Obviously, educational methods, as well as industry technology, have undergone tremendous changes that are somehow reflected in current courses. Basic skills for a petroleum engineer, besides mastering fundamentals of mathematics, physics and chemistry, will include:
Well drilling technology;
Oil and gas production technology;
Properties of reservoir rocks;
Properties of reservoir fluids;
Fluid flow in porous media;
Reservoir analysis and management.
There is evidence2 that, regarding basic technical knowledge, the majority of newly petroleum engineering graduates are well prepared. On the other hand, apparently this is not true with regard to the fast-changing requirements of the oil industry, where there is an expectancy that young professionals will be prepared to exercise leadership, deal with business issues and implement policies that will contribute to corporate success and profitability.
It is probably unrealistic to expect to find the aforementioned set of skills on a recently graduate. However, as a goal, petroleum engineering education should provide the students with the means to use their technical background and personal qualification to acquire those skills after a short period of time subsequent to graduation.
Clearly, achievement of that goal will depend not only on university infrastructure, laboratory facilities and well prepared professors. Fundamental importance should also be given to recruitment of students. Two recent panels3,4 have reached similar conclusions regarding the fact that attracting the "best and the brightest" students is essential and somewhat is an objective that is not being completely fulfilled by petroleum engineering schools.
Importance of Industry-University Interaction
Over the last twenty years the field of Petroleum Engineering has undergone major changes. The evolution of technology as well as the increasing presence of computerized tools in nearly all stages of the exploration-production process has generated new needs in the educational system. One frequent comment is that Academia not always has evolved fast enough in order to meet those needs.
The perception that universities do not follow, with the necessary fast pace, the trends of the industry (the real world) is present in almost every discipline. Most of the times this perception does not represent a completely fair view of Academia. Universities do not have to concentrate only on the development of mere technical skills. Knowledge of fundamentals of the exact sciences is still very important for engineers and the efforts dedicated to master those concepts should not be influenced by new developments and the immediateness of the industry. On the other hand, it must be recognized that academic courses should somehow be influenced and reflect changes undergone by the industry. For that matter, a close collaboration between Industry and Academia will certainly contribute to better prepare future professionals.
|File Size||63 KB||Number of Pages||4|