Energy is a key component to people’s everyday lives. Petroleum engineers are able to address and solve important technology challenges that will lead to energy security and societal prosperity, so the position is in high demand. This challenging and rewarding field of engineering requires creative application of a wide spectrum of knowledge, including, but not limited to mathematics, physics, geology, and chemistry.
Worldwide energy demand is growing, and experts agree that oil and gas will continue to play an important role in the world’s energy supply. The decision making for complex projects falls to a great extent upon petroleum engineers, providing them with a high degree of responsibility. In addition, since hydrocarbon reserves are found in such diverse areas as Asia, South America, and Europe, petroleum engineers will have opportunities for exciting assignments all over the globe.
Petroleum engineers play a variety of roles within the energy business. They design and monitor the drilling of exploratory and development wells used to locate and produce the oil and gas from the subsurface. They work with technologies that can describe the characteristics of rocks deep beneath the surface and detect the type of fluids contained in those rocks. They install and maintain the equipment that lifts fluids from subsurface reservoirs to the surface, and they design surface collection and treatment facilities to prepare produced hydrocarbons for delivery to a refinery or pipeline. Hydraulic fracturing of shale gas and tight oil is the responsibility of a petroleum engineer, as is the development and implementation of enhanced oil recovery methods that capture stranded or bypassed hydrocarbons from old oilfields. In addition to these traditional petroleum engineering career choices, there are other emerging careers for petroleum engineering graduates in pollution clean up, underground waste disposal (including the subsurface injection of carbon dioxide to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases), and hydrology.
The objective of the petroleum engineering program is to graduate practical, qualified engineers who can successfully pursue careers in the oil and gas production and services industries or similar areas. Graduates of the program are expected to understand the fundamental principles of science and engineering behind the technology of petroleum engineering to keep their education current and to give them the capability of self-instruction after graduation. They should be prepared to serve society by using the ideals of ethical behavior, professionalism, and environmentally responsible stewardship of natural resources.