University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

State Board approves petroleum engineering program

The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education at its teleconference meeting today approved a new Department of Petroleum Engineering at UND. The department will be part of the 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 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 future.”

“The new Department of Petroleum Engineering is designed to educate future generations of petroleum engineers,” said 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.

Useful links:
*UND School of Engineering and Mines:
*Bachelors of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering:

-- Juan Miguel Pedraza, writer/editor, University Relations, 777-6571,

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