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The State of Petroleum Engineering Education and How YOU Can Help!

Thursday, 22 August | 1200 - 1315

The past ten years have brought tremendous changes and challenges for petroleum engineering education. University petroleum engineering programs saw record high enrollments in the mid-2010’s, however, the industry downturn followed by the global pandemic has now resulted in some of the lowest enrollment and graduation rates in decades. Underlying these cyclic issues, lies the impact of the energy transition that raises concerns with potential and incoming students. The combination of these factors has resulted in the “perfect storm” of low supply while demand shows indications of strongly rebounding.

Throughout all these changes, petroleum engineering programs have been adjusting in a variety of ways. Many are expanding program offerings, others are modifying program names, while almost all have expanded into associated subsurface engineering opportunities such as geothermal, carbon sequestration, and hydrogen. Some of these changes have been viewed as objectionable; however, they also bring tremendous opportunities. Contrary to numerous reports, the petroleum industry is not dying and will be needed for decades to come. When coupled together with these new opportunities, incoming petroleum engineering students potentially have one of the most optimistic outlooks ever available.

However, convincing potential students of these opportunities in the face of continuous negative reports and adverse outlooks is a major task. We must get new students into these programs, as well as show the potential paths to young professionals that are already in the workforce, and it is incumbent on all of us to help with this recruiting and workforce development. This presentation will discuss the current state of petroleum and subsurface engineering programs, as well as provide data on current trends. It will also discuss tactics that all of us can apply when speaking with young people about the petroleum industry, which can have far-reaching benefits for all of us whether they choose to pursue a career in such or not.

JenniferDr. Jennifer L. Miskimins is the Department Head of the Petroleum Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines, where she holds the F.H. Mick Merelli/Cimarex Energy Distinguished Department Head Chair. With over 30 years of experience in the petroleum industry, Dr. Miskimins has a background as a production/completions engineer and production foreman at Marathon Oil Company.

Her extensive expertise includes well completions, stimulation, hydraulic fracturing, and associated production issues. Dr. Miskimins is the founder and Director of the Fracturing, Acidizing, Stimulation Technology (FAST) Consortium, focusing on optimizing stimulation treatments and their impact on recovery efficiencies.

Dr. Miskimins served as the first Completions Technical Director on the SPE International Board of Directors from 2015-2018. As an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 2010-2011 and 2013-2014, she shared her insights on hydraulic fracturing in unconventional reservoirs. Her contributions were recognized with the SPE International Completions Optimization and Technology Award in 2014 and the SPE International Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty in 2022.

In addition to her leadership roles, Dr. Miskimins actively participates in various conference organizing committees and serves as a technical editor for journals. She played a pivotal role as the Editor-in-Chief for the recent SPE Monograph update, Hydraulic Fracturing: Fundamentals and Advancements. As a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado (License #36193), Dr. Miskimins continues to shape the field of petroleum engineering through her multifaceted contributions.