Graduate Program

Program Description
Petroleum engineering is not a narrowly-focused engineering discipline. In addition to having a petroleum engineering and earth science background, a petroleum engineer must have a good understanding of basic engineering, the natural sciences and mathematics.

Skills in this branch of engineering are needed to meet the ever-increasing demand for energy. The world’s energy portfolio includes hydrocarbon, geothermal and wind energy storage as well as environmental issues such as nuclear waste disposal. The program emphasizes integrated, multidisciplinary teamwork in classroom instruction and research and actively pursues interdisciplinary activities with many other Mines departments, particularly the Earth Science/Engineering programs.

Our mission is to educate engineers for the worldwide petroleum industry at the undergraduate and graduate levels, perform research that enhances the state-of-the-art in petroleum technology, and to serve the industry and public good through professional societies and public service.

Beyond the Classroom
The department offers many semester-abroad opportunities. Popular exchange programs include:

* Mining University in Leoben, Austria
* Technical University in Delft, Holland
* University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

Exchange opportunities also exist around the world in areas such as China, Poland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, the Middle East and South America. Qualified undergraduate and graduate students from each school can attend the other for one semester and receive full transfer credit back at the home university.

Also, two Petroleum Engineering Department summer field sessions, one after the completion of the sophomore year and one after the junior year, are important parts of the educational experience. The first is a two-week session designed to introduce the student to the petroleum ­industry. Petroleum engineering, a truly unique and exciting engineering discipline, can be experienced by visiting petroleum operations. Historically, the areas visited have included Canada, the U.S. Gulf Coast, California, Rocky Mountain Region, Alaska and Europe.

The second two-week session, after the junior year, is an in-depth study of the Rangely Oil Field and surrounding geol­ogy in western Colorado. The Rangely Oil Field is the largest oil field in the Rocky Mountain region and has undergone primary, secondary and enhanced recovery processes. Field trips in the area provide the setting for understanding the complexity of geologic systems and the environmental and safety issues in the context of reservoir development and management.


Ground-breaking for Marquez Hall is expected in 2009. This new state-of-the-art home for the Petroleum Engineering Department will include a visualization center as well as numerous laboratories and classrooms equipped with the technology needed to keep students and research on the cutting edge. This new building will greatly enhance our existing facilities:

Computer Laboratory
A state-of-the-art computer laboratory is available for ­general use and classroom instruction. Software includes more than $5 million in donated industry software used by oil and gas companies and research labs around the world.

Drilling Simulator Laboratory
Rare on university campuses, this lab contains a computer controlled, full-scale, drilling rig simulator. It includes drilling controls that can be used to simulate onshore and offshore drilling operations and well control situations.

Reservoir Characterization Laboratory
Properties of rock are measured that affect economic devel­opment of reservoir resources of oil and gas. Measured properties include permeability, porosity, and relative per­meability. “Hands on” experiences with simple and sophisticated equipment are provided.

Drilling Fluids Laboratory
Modern equipment enables students to evaluate and design fluid systems required in drilling operations.

Fluids Characterization Laboratory
A variety of properties of fluids from oil and gas reservoirs are measured for realistic conditions of elevated temperature and pressure. This laboratory accentuates principles studied in lectures.

Career Paths
Graduates of the program are in high demand in private ­industry, as evidenced by the strong job market and high salaries. The petroleum industry offers a wide range of employment opportunities for Mines petroleum engineering students during summer breaks and after graduation. Exciting experiences range from field work in producing oil and gas fields to office jobs in small towns or large cities. Worldwide travel and overseas assignments are available for interested students.

One of our objectives in the Petroleum Engineering Department is to prepare students to succeed in an energy ­industry that is evolving into an industry working with many energy sources. Besides developing technical competence in petroleum engineering, you will learn how your education can help you contribute to the development of alternative ­energy sources. In addition to exciting careers in the petroleum industry, many of our graduates find rewarding careers in the environmental arena, law, medicine, business and many other walks of life.


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