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N.D. State Board OKs new department at UND to help serve state's growing need for petroleum engineers

Posted on 1/19/2012

The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education at its teleconference meeting today approved a new Department of Petroleum Engineering at the University of North Dakota. The department will be part of the UND School of Engineering and Mines (SEM) and offers the only petroleum engineering degree program in the state.

"This is a response to a very apparent need in North Dakota, with many exciting advances in the petroleum industry," said UND President Robert Kelley. "This means it's the right time to establish a Department of Petroleum Engineering at the University of North Dakota.

"Part of UND's mission is to serve the state, the country and the world through teaching, research, creative activities and service," Kelley said. "The Department of Petroleum Engineering will enhance this mission through its teaching and research by educating future generations of petroleum engineers, and developing technologies to serve the production of reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy for America's

"The new Department of Petroleum Engineering is designed to educate future generations of petroleum engineers," said Dr. Hesham El Rewini, SEM dean. "It was created as a timely response to the oil boom in North Dakota. Faculty in our Department of Geology and Geological Engineering put together the curriculum. Our students will contribute to building a better world through research and professional service for reliable, affordable and sustainable energy production and environmental protection."

There's been an enthusiastic response to petroleum studies at UND, including the Bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering, approved by the State Board of Higher Education two years ago, El Rewini said.

"In just one year, the program grew to 24 majors on campus and seven distance students," he said. That rate of expansion exceeds everyone's expectations and underscores the timeliness of the Board's move today that will broaden the scope of petroleum studies and research at UND.

The new department-located on the third floor of the Upson II building, part of UND's engineering complex--will house UND's petroleum engineering program. The objective of the program is to educate petroleum engineering undergraduates prepared for advanced studies in graduate school or to compete for positions in the petroleum industry and related industries or government agencies.

North Dakota oil production has been growing rapidly in recent years, rising from No. 8 in 2005 to No. 4 in 2009 and headed to No. 2 after Texas in the coming year. But even as exploration and innovative drilling techniques recover more oil, there is a growing worldwide shortage of qualified engineers to handle the demands of the petroleum industry.

"With more baby boomers retiring from the petroleum industry and the coming implementation of carbon sequestration, the demand for petroleum engineers will keep growing," El Rewini said.

About UND Petroleum Engineering
The Petroleum Engineering curriculum is designed following UND's Essential Studies and ABET's requirements; together with input from alumni, industry professionals, government officials, and faculty at UND and other institutions. It makes maximum use of existing resources, including courses and labs. It focuses on students' future success by emphasizing fundamentals; hands-on experience in leading-edge industrial technologies and software for fast-track growth in students; early careers; and featured training in international politics, multicultural communication, business administration, leadership and entrepreneurship.

The Department of Petroleum Engineering will integrate teaching, research, and skills application; and all faculty and students will work as a team in a research consortium setting. The program is designed to provide students with a systematic understanding of the petroleum industry that includes: science and technology; economics and business; policy and regulation; and society and behavior.

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