13 Jul 2014 More

Engineering Jobs & the School of Mines

posted by Unknown @ 04:47 0 Comments

Students consider engineering jobs
It wasn’t even ten years ago when the Colorado School of Mines graduated just 30 students from its petroleum engineering program.  This year alone there are 200 students in that same junior class.  Engineering jobs, everything from petroleum engineering and chemical engineering to mechanical engineering, are on the rise.

“It’s about the demand for jobs in oil and gas, and the fact that the jobs are good jobs,” says Will Fleckenstein, head of the School of Mines’ department of petroleum engineering.With huge new shale strikes in regions like the Marcellus and the Barnett, the oil and gas industry is seeing a boom like never before.  Natural gas production alone is up by 35 percent since 2005.

It’s not just the School of Mines but universities all across the country that are seeing increased enrollment in engineering courses.  One problem many colleges will tell you is that they are having trouble keeping the faculty stocked with professors.  The School of Mines is one of the top schools in the country and enrollment is up 31 percent since 2007.

Fleckenstein says that 2/3 of graduates, no matter their course of study, wind up working in the oil and gas industry.  Even starting jobs average a beginning salary of $90,000 per year.  Relocation for most students is simply not an issue.

“The skills are interchangeable between oil and gas,” says Stan Dempsey Jr., president of the Colorado Petroleum Association. “Most people in the industry have moved around an awful lot, and you see companies that were part of the natural gas boom now five or six years ago drilling for oils and liquids because it’s more profitable now.”

While Colorado State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder cannot pinpoint these increases directly to the oil and gas industry, there’s certainly a correlation.  Geological sciences majors at CU has tripled in the last ten years alone.

“Part of this is a result of strong hiring from oil and gas companies,” says Lang Farmer, chair of CU’s department of geological sciences. “But students are also interested in how to obtain the raw materials required in technologies being developed to tap non-traditional energy sources like wind and solar. Overall, the oil and gas boom is only one of many drivers of increased student interest in the earth sciences.”For example, at CU most oil and gas companies are looking for graduates in mechanical and chemical engineering.

“We’ve had several years of booming interested in mechanical engineering,” says Terry Mayes, director of academic programs and assessment for the CU College of Engineering and Applied Science. “But that’s partially due to the fact that it’s such a versatile major, for which graduates have many options, including oil and gas.”

Oil companies in the Bakken and the Permian Basin are grabbing up engineering graduates as fast as they find them.  But there are simply not enough qualified applicants to fill all the available jobs.  Companies are even bringing some retired engineers back into the profession.

The hiring of CU graduates by oil and gas companies has also skyrocketed in the past two years, says Mayes.  Halliburton and Schlumberger are the main reason for that.  Regular recruiters on the college campus include Anadarko Petroleum, EnCana Oil and Gas, Calfrac Well Services, Emerald Oil and Welltec.

Demand at the college is so tremendous that it cannot add classes fast enough.  Instead, it is simply increasing class sizes.  A shortage of faculty is evident in the petroleum engineering department where the school needs four new teachers alone.

“The school as a whole is really benefiting from the boom in oil and gas,” Fleckenstein said. “As people drill wells, there are many jobs involved in the process. It turns out to be very long-lived employment for those who go into the field.” 

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