SPE's Varied Approaches to Continuing Education
- Floyd E. Schoonover (Humble Oil & Refining Co., Los Angeles, Calif.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 1966
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,517 - 1,522
- 1966. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 4.3.4 Scale, 3.1 Artificial Lift Systems, 3.1.1 Beam and related pumping techniques, 1.8 Formation Damage, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training
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A need exists for more refresher and, continuing education courses for petroleum engineers. A distinction is made in this article between refresher courses and continuing education courses and each is defined. A simple test is outlined whereby the individual engineer, through self-analysis, can, determine in which type of course he should be enrolled. The author, outlines the responsibility of the individual, his company, the university and the professional society to the educational endeavor. Since 1965 at least four different approaches have been used by SPE local sections to challenge the re-education problem. Each of the four methods is reviewed briefly and the approach used, by one local AIME section to meet the challenge of combating engineer obsolescence within its membership is discussed in more detail.
The launching of Sputnik I was acclaimed universally as a colossal feat of engineering. Immediately thereafter the layman pointed an accusing finger at our engineers and demanded equal feats. Editorials and commentators made it appear as though our nation was caught napping. Both state and federal governments brought great pressure to bear on our educational system. The dividing of classes into "smart" and "dumb", aptitude tests, rewriting of text books, revised curricula, cheating scandals and dropouts are now a matter of history.
But who really pushed the panic button? Obsolescence is not a situation unique to engineering; be it dentists, lawyers, physicians, scientists or businessmen, every profession must retread itself. The research and development scientist's axiom is "If it works, it is obsolete". Obsolescence began in Time 1 and will continue until time infinity.
However, the awareness of obsolescence may signal the development of a kind of professionalism in engineering that some of the other professions have yet to discover. The Pearl Harbor effect of Sputnik I may have been the long-hoped-for unification sought by the educators. There has been a mass exodus, literally, of the populace going back to school. The universities are being pressed to provide more classrooms for the influx of high school graduates. Room is being made also for the engineers who are beginning to drift back into refresher and continuing education courses. There is much urging that the professional societies, corporations and universities do more to help the engineer keep up to date.
Will industry retread its, engineer or buy a new one? It was recently estimated that the industries were spending $50 million per year in educating and re-educating their engineers and scientists. This amount is still not enough to go around. It is, after all, the responsibility of the engineer to keep his technical talent abreast of the times. If the company does not provide the opportunity, then the engineer must do it on his own initiative.
The engineer may personally feel that he is technically competent and be honestly unaware that his technical knowledge is gradually being outdated. The recent ASEE study involving 2,000 engineers who had been out of college five years or more indicated that this was the case. Further, the study reveals that the engineer feels his advancement in the, company is limited by his lack of training in non-technical areas. In contrast, the records indicate that relatively few engineers have been discharged or retired early for reasons other than technical or scientific obsolescence.
The underlying reason why individuals go back to school can be quite varied. However, there are four reasons which seem to predominate: (1) updating one's self in the profession, (2) upgrading to a higher academic degree, (3) diversifying, and (4) maturing one's interest and perspective. It is the first of these reasons to which this article is directed.
State of the Engineering Profession
Since 1940, engineering colleges, in the United States have graduated approximately 725,000 bachelor degree engineers. About 116,600 engineers went on to receive advanced degrees.
During 1964, 35,000 engineers were graduated with bachelors degrees; 12,000 engineers received MS degrees; and 2,000 engineers received PhD degrees.
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