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University of Houston petroleum engineering program gets ABET accreditation

The petroleum engineering program at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering has received ABET accreditation
University of Houston petroleum engineering program gets ABET accreditation

The University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering’s bachelor of science degree program in petroleum engineering has been accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, the global accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. All of the Cullen College’s undergraduate programs are ABET accredited.

ABET accreditation assures that programs meet standards to produce graduates ready to enter critical technical fields that are leading the way in innovation and emerging technologies, and anticipating the welfare and safety needs of the public.

The bachelor’s degree option in petroleum engineering was launched in the fall of 2009 to counteract the critical shortage of talent needed to replace the industry’s aging workforce. Since then, the undergraduate petroleum engineering program was highlighted as a model partnership between industry and academia by the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) in 2013.

“Accreditation of the bachelor’s petroleum engineering program is another critical milestone toward establishing University of Houston petroleum engineering as a premier program,” said Tom Holley, director of the petroleum engineering program.

The Cullen College has long had a successful master’s program in petroleum engineering, but until a few years ago, it had no such offering for undergraduates. By the middle of the last decade, though, many businesses in the petroleum industry were experiencing difficulty finding new talent and saw “the great crew change” – the coming wave of retirements among key engineering and technical personnel – as a major looming challenge. College and program leadership, seeing a need they could help meet, took the first steps toward establishing an undergraduate degree in field.

With significant support from the petroleum sector, the bachelor of science program in petroleum engineering was established at the university’s Energy Research Park (ERP).  The program is administered by the Cullen College’s chemical and biomolecular engineering department and has received support from ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, Marathon Oil, Southwest Energy, El Paso Corp., the Society of Petroleum Engineers Gulf Coast Chapter and major private donors. 

Industry members also serve on the petroleum engineering advisory board, where they help design a curriculum that addresses the realities of the modern petroleum sector. According to the BHEF report, the curriculum addresses the “evolution in the industry toward new technologies that allow engineers to access previously unreachable energy sources.” Students gain a solid grounding in the full span of upstream petroleum engineering, including drilling, formation evaluation, production and reservoir engineering.

The program’s classes and labs are focused on developing skills vital to success in the 21st century, such as problem-solving, teamwork, effective communication with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, and safety in the actual practice of engineering.

Since its relaunch, the program has grown from 20 students in 2009 to over 900 students today.

Image: University of Houston-Petroleum Engineering Facebook

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