Today's Petroleum Engineering Graduate - Will He Meet Tomorrow's Challenge?
- John E. Sherborne (Union Oil Co. of California)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 1957
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 15 - 18
- 1957. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 7.5.4 University Curricula, 4.3.4 Scale, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 2 Well Completion, 7.5.3 Professional Registration/Cetification
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Historically, engineers have been men whose function has been to analyze what is needed for solution of practical problems, to design or plan the needed systems. circuits, structures, or processes for this purpose and to predict their performance and cost. A hundred years ago as our national expansion began to accelerate, man was forced by lack of transportation and communication to work in much greater isolation than is now the case. The engineer was sought for the experience and judgment he could bring to a particular project - for the art he had developed - rather than for his scientific nowledge.
In discussing "Objectives of an Engineering Education," W. V. Houston illustrates the importance attached at that time to engineering experience, as well as the growing realization of the value of science to the engineer. In doing this he tells of the important part played by William Thomson in the laying of the Atlantic telegraph. Although the chief electrical engineer on the project was a man of considerable experience and of good reputation, he had no experience with cables as long as the one across the Atlantic. Thomson, who had virtually no practical experience, had, however, given considerable thought to electrical transmission and had pointed out the importance of capacitance and resistance in long conductors. Unfortunately, Thomson's findings were ignored, the engineer believing an extrapolation of his own experience preferable. The first cable thus laid at a cost approximating one million dollars was a failure and not until the advanced scientific findings of Thomson were employed was success achieved. This is not to discredit practical experience and the valuable wisdom it produced. Far from it! Rather, it is to indicate the importance placed upon such experience in the middle of the 19th Century.
It is not surprising, therefore, that as engineering education developed in the United States, the first educators were drawn from practice; nor that early curricula dealt with the art of engineering and consideration of existing engineering works and systems. As our fund of scientific knowledge expanded, its value in the solution of engineering problems became increasingly evident.
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