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Best Petroleum Engineering Schools For Undergraduate: Top 10 In 2016

We’ve researched different universities that offer petroleum engineering to compile a list of the top 10 best petroleum engineering schools for undergraduates in 2016. It should come in surprise that first place goes out to The University of Texas at Austin. Please note, that this list has been compiled with regards to Universities in the USA only. We will be looking to make a global list down the track.

10. Stanford University

Stanford University Petroleum Engineering

Find the Master’s of Petroleum Engineering link here.

9. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Petroleum Engineering

Find the LSU petroleum engineering faculty here.

8. West Virginia University

West Virginia University Petroleum

Find the West Virginia petroleum engineering studies here.

7. University of Kansas

University of Kansas Petroleum Engineering

Find their link to chemical and petroleum engineering here.

6. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University

Find their link here.

5. University of Houston

University of Houston

A recent addition to the best petroleum engineering schools for undergraduates is the University of Houston which created its petroleum program only four years ago. The quality of the course is continually improving as the University recruits more staff and increases the size of faculties.

4. Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School Of Mines Top Petroleum Engineering

Undergoing recent expansions to facilities and equipment, the Colorado School of Mines offers a prestigious entry into petroleum engineering education through an interdisciplinary teamwork approach. The University focuses on laboratory and classroom training to prepare students with the knowledge required to perform in the industry.

3. Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University Engineering

Pennsylvania State University offer a degree in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering. In this program students undertake a parallel studying approach where they will research reservoir engineering followed by drilling and production. After completion of the undergraduate, students may complete master’s and then PhD studies in the Energy and Mineral Engineering programs.

2. Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University Petroleum Undergraduate

Coming in at second place is Texas A&M University. The school readies students for employment in the industry by exposing them to theory in the classroom and experience in the industry. As well as the four year bachelor program they offer the master’s and PhD as well.

And #1 of The Best Petroleum Engineering Schools – University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin Petroleum Engineering

The University of Texas at Austin is ranked as the top petroleum engineering schools in the USA due to it’s brilliant research program and top of the line faculty. The University of Texas at Austin offer a Bachelor of Science degree program that gives students the tools required to become integral employees in the petroleum industry. Students may also undertake PhD and Master’s programs at the University.

Alternative Careers For Petroleum Engineers

trainee patent attorney

With oil prices at historical lows and companies laying off employees, for some of us it might be time to consider a different career path. There are plenty of alternative careers for petroleum engineers, these are a couple that are perhaps the most appealing.


trainee patent attorney

Not exactly a bobby, but search for trainee patent attorney jobs in your area. A first year trainee patent attorney has a great starting salary of between $60,000 – $90,000 (the amount depends on the size and reputation of the firm). A masters is preferred, but not required and if you get hired they will immediately put you into a Master of Intellectual Property Law that you will study part time while you work.

Your skills and knowledge in the petroleum industry will be put to good use as a patent attorney. Your understanding is used to help draft, apply for and prosecute patents. You may also do some work in litigation depending on the structure of the firm itself.

To give a brief example: Petroleum Company A has developed a new wireline tool that is better able to characterize formation damage within the wellbore by using a novel radioactive technique. They go to the law firm to get a patent on the new tool. It’s your job to understand the technology of this tool such that you can protect it in the broadest of possible ways through the patent application. It’s then a process of redrafting the patent application until the patent office accepts the application (on the first few applications it’s common to seek greater protection on the technology than will be accepted and draft down).

After working in the industry for 10 or 15 years you may get an opportunity to become a partner in the law firm and that’s when the big bucks can roll in. Partners can easily earn around $300,000 if they find a reputable patent law firm.

If you like reading and are a fan of language then this is your kind of job. You will be skim reading documents the majority of the time and an ability to synthesise this information into a profound understanding are musts. For more about patent attorney jobs take a look here.


Finance Trainee Patent Attorney

It’s also possible to find work in finance, although it can be initially tricky to get that foot in the door with little experience. Networking works best here and if you are interested, then undertaking the CFA level 1 exam should give you a solid enough foundation in finance and prove to potential companies that you are passionate.

You would be looking for jobs with the title oil and gas research analyst. A research analyst works for an investment firm and studies in immense detail the financials of a basket of companies in a single sector (in your case oil and gas). You can work as either a buy side research analyst or sell side research analyst and as the name suggests, they look for buy or sell recommendations specifically. Your understand of companies in the oil and gas industry will bring valuable insight to the table as a research analyst and you will look at the financial implications of bringing new technology to the market, industry trends and operating value of companies to discover if an investment opportunity exists.

The only real issue with finance are the long hours. These guys are working all the time in their hey days, but if you like numbers and present well then you will go far in a research analyst role. For more about buy side and sell side research analysts take a look here.

Other Engineering Disciplines

There’s also plenty of opportunity to work in different engineering disciplines, you just have to be ready to sell yourself to the company that you are looking for a career change and are no longer interested in petroleum engineering.

Look for more obscure ones, I had a friend that successfully went from petroleum into materials engineering and then into automotive engineering (in drive train) working on developing defence force vehicles.

This depends a lot on your background and what you studied your bachelor in. Just be ready to sell yourself and to change your resume around to align it as best you can with what the company is looking for.


Dual Trade Instrument Technician

There’s a trade out there that is even more lucrative than being a petroleum engineer. It’s a Dual Trade Electronic Instrumentation Technician. These guys make so much cash it makes me feel sick. I had a few buddies I grew up with and instead of going to University they began working in these trades. At 22 years old they were on $300,000 per year. Unbelievable right? It makes me feel sick too. For more on instrument technicians take a look here.

The job is to commission and test instrumentation controls in the industry. Pretty simple stuff. If you can get into an apprenticeship as a dual trade electronic instrument technician, make sure to stick it out and work through those first couple of years, the pay will be sh*t, but once you finish it will all have been worth it.


alternative careers for petroleum engineers

While I’m sure this isn’t for everyone out there because the salary is nothing compared to any of the other professions, I’ve had a few friends that have transitioned from the petroleum engineering lifestyle to a teaching one. There are perks with it such as the low stress, easy days and plenty of holidays each year. You’re also able to easily move around the world in a teaching profession, plenty of countries are looking for English teachers. It might be worthwhile for you to research teaching is like to help you make a decision.

If you want to get started in teaching you’ll probably need to undertake a masters in education before applying for any jobs (however check your country’s requirements as I’m certain it will be different on a country basis).

If you’re still interested in becoming a petroleum engineer, check out our guidelines here.

Chapter 6 Petroleum Economics – Uncertainty and Risk


*Explain the difference between uncertainty and risk, in the context of investment

Uncertainty relates to a lack of knowledge about future events. There’s a quote from one of the US presidents that goes “there’s things we know we know, there’s things we know that we don’t know, but there’s also things we don’t know that we don’t know”. It’s a pretty thick quote but illustrates a point in the final section. That’s where uncertainty is born from. (more…)

Chapter 1 Petroleum Economics – Introduction

*Describe general financial aspects of the petroleum industry

General financial aspects of the petroleum industry.

Basically there is an opportunity to profit. Companies are formed to exploit reserves, they perform due diligence, take into account risks and make a decision on whether or not to drill and produce. Investment can come from venture capital companies, private investment or equity raising. Petroleum products can be sold in several different markets such as options, futures contracts or directly through shares of a company. (more…)

Chapter 6 – Numerical Methods in Reservoir Simulation Learning Objectives

*Write down from memory simple finite difference expressions for derivatives etc. Define the meaning of the forward difference, the backward difference and the central difference and the order of the error associated with each, O(Δx) or O(Δx2). Explain spatial and temporal notation.

A finite difference scheme is a way of approximating derivatives of a function.

The forward difference takes the slope between Pi and Pi+1 as its approximation

The backward difference takes the slope between Pi and Pi-1 as its approximation (more…)

Chapter 4 – Gridding and Well Modelling Learning Objectives

*Understand and be able to describe the basic idea of gridding and of spatial and temporal discretization

Gridding is the process of dividing the entire reservoir up into small spatial blocks which then compromise the units on which the numerical block to block flow calculations are performed. This is known more formally as spatial discretization.

There is also the process of dividing up blocks into time steps (Δt) and this is referred to as temporal discretization. (more…)

Chapter 3 – Reservoir Simulation Model Setup Learning Objectives

The textbook asks a few questions that aren’t directly answered  in material, so this section is complete. I’ll get to work on filling in the blanks but for the time being here it is.

*Identify what questions the simulation is expected to address


*Identify what data is required as input to perform the desired calculations

Most data files will be separated into the following areas:

  • Model dimensions
  • Grid and rock properties
  • Fluid properties
  • Initial conditions
  • Output requirements
  • Production schedule

Individual parts of the input data can also be setup by programs and this falls under pre-processing.

Pre-processing may be used to: (more…)

Reservoir Simulation Learning Objectives Chapter 2 – Basic Concepts In Reservoir Engineering

*Be familiar with the meaning and use of all the usual terms which appear in reservoir engineering such as , Sw, So, Bo, Bw, Bg, Rso, Rsw, cw, co, kro, krw, Pc etc.

  • Sw – water saturation.
  • So – oil saturation
  • Bo – oil formation volume factor
  • Bg – gas formation volume factor
  • Bw – water formation volume factor
  • Rso – solution gas oil ratio
  • Rsw – solution gas water ratio
  • Cwcompressibility water
  • Cocompressibility oil
  • Cfcompressibility formation
  • Krorelative permeability oil
  • Krwrelative permeability water
  • Pccapillary pressure


Reservoir Simulation Learning Objectives Chapter 1 – Introduction and Case Studies

*Be able to describe what is meant by a simulation model, saying what analytical models and numerical models are.

Simulation models are a representation of a real system and because of their simplified nature, allow calculations to be made giving insight into the real system.

Analytical Models are defined by their ability to be solved by using mathematical techniques.

Numerical Models are defined by the complexity in solving their equations and are usually carried out by a computer. Numerical models approximate the real model by carrying out a large number of calculations across unit steps of interest (time steps for example). (more…)

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