Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, Special Issue, 847-851
Published Online October 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 847
An Elementary Introduction to Training the Postgraduates for
Professional Degrees in Oil and Gas Engineering
Qingyou Liu, Zhibin Liu*
Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu, China
Email: liuqy6, *
Received August 3rd, 2012; re vised September 8th, 2012; accepted September 18th, 2012
The demand of the talents in petroleum engineering of petroleum enterprises is analyzed in this paper ac-
cording to the current situation of the engineering education. The four levels of the professional talents
needed by the petroleum enterprises are specified, which makes it clear that what the purpose and orienta-
tion of the higher education in petroleum engineering should be. The qualities of the petroleum engineers
are discussed specifically and it is pointed out that the training of the postgraduate for professional degree
in oil and gas engineering should be the cradle of the petroleum engineers. A training schedule is listed in
this paper based on the discussion, including curriculum provision, practice link, thesis and training mode,
which will be a pathfinder of the education of the professional degree graduate student in oil and gas en-
gineering. Moreover, the practice can provide useful experience for the training and education of different
type of graduates.
Keywords: Engineering Education; Petroleum Engineering; Postgraduates for Professional Degree;
Recently, the engineering education is developed rapidly in
China and we have made a lot of achievements (Zhu, 2011a). In
2010, there are 6.6 million students having been enrolled in
universities and colleges, 47% of whom (3.1 million) were
higher vocational college students. About 470,000 graduate
students were enrolled this year, and there were 23% (110,000)
professional master degree candidates. There were 34,000 mas-
ter degree candidates of engineering of these professional
graduate students. Moreover, a pilot project of doctor of engi-
neering has been launched. However, there is still a strange
phenomenon in talents supply and demand, which is the con-
tradiction between the employment difficulty of the graduates
and the lack of talents needed by enterprises. The direct reason
of this situation is the mismatching of the supply of labor edu-
cated in school and the demand of the enterprises and markets.
In “Outline of the Plan of the Medium-long Term National
Educational Reform and Development (2010-2012)”, the core
mission of our higher education is to improve the quality of our
graduates, which means the time is coming to an end that the
number of college students increases extensively. Obviously the
improvement of the quality of students contains the developing
direction of the engineering education, and the main mission of
the future postgraduate education is to adjust the educational
structure and develop the training of the professional degree
graduate students.
Like the other engineering fields, the key problem of oil and
gas engineering is how to fulfill the demand of petroleum en-
terprises. The difference of the normal graduate students and
the students for professional master degree needs to be focused,
and the different levels of these two types of education need to
be specified. In 2010, there were 64 colleges and universities
authorized by the ministry of education to make the experiment
of the training of professional graduate students, including the
Petroleum University (Beijing, Huadong) and Southwest Pe-
troleum University. This experiment indicates the urgent de-
mand of the petroleum enterprises for the talents and the mis-
matching of the supply of labor educated by school and the
demand of the enterprises.
The Quality Should Be Processed by a Petroleum
To solve the problems above, we should first make it clear
that what kind and what level of the talent is demanded by the
petroleum enterprises, and what quality they should process.
Th e re a r e m ai n ly 4 l e v e l s o f e n gi n ee r i n g a n d t e c h ni ca l p e r sonnel
needed by the national petroleum enterprises. The first level is
the normal skilled workers, i.e. the specific operators. The se-
cond level is the normal engineering and technical managers.
The third level is the engineers, they are in charge of the engi-
neering and technical affairs. The fourth level is the researchers
of engineering and technology. According to the statistic, the
proportion of the demand is 60:28:10:2. The mismatching of
the supply and demand comes from the ignorance of this pro-
portion and the inaccuracy of the education t arget.
The difference between the third level, the petroleum engi-
neers, and the normal technicians is that they have more broad
and in-depth knowledge, and more experiences. Most of the
engineers in China come from the normal technicians. However,
we believe that although these technicians can exchange the
time for engineering experiences, they may not get more broad
and in-depth professional knowledge. This should be specified
by the colleges and universities.
*Corresponding author. The third level and the fourth level are obviously different,
Q. Y. LIU, Z. B. LIU
that is, the researchers mainly do not involve in the manufac-
ture directly. However, the management mode of some enter-
prises makes this difference vague. There are general engineer,
senior engineer, and professor of engineering, of which the
senior engineer seems to be researchers.
There are 3 second-level disciplines under the first-level dis-
ciplines of oil and gas engineering, which are oil-gas well en-
gineering, oil and gas field development engineering, oil and
gas storage and transportation engineering. The petroleum en-
gineers with more broad and in-depth knowledge should be the
specialists of all these fields, otherwise, they can only be drill-
ing engineers, reservoir engineers, or oil production engineers.
The Training Schedule and Mode of the
Postgraduate for Professional Degrees in Oil
and Gas Engineering
The Purpose and Orientation
Although there are differences between individual colleges and
universities, their purpose and orientation of the education of
postgraduate in oil and gas engineering are all to train high-level
practical compound engineers and managers. Most of these
schools focus on the word “high-level”, which will make some
misunderstandings. We think that the division of four levels of
talents demanded by petroleum enterprises will make it much
clearer that what the purpose and orientation should be.
The first level is the vocational or specialist education for gen-
eral skilled workers.
The second level is the undergraduate education for general
The third level is the professional postgraduate education for
The fourth level is training of the research postgraduate or
doctor for researchers.
The professional postgraduate education is the cradle of the
petroleum engineers.
The Training Schedule
The training schedule of the postgraduate for professional de-
grees contains course learning, practice link and dissertatio n. Oil
and gas engineering is to drill and probe the hydrocarbon re-
sources underground with scientific theories and technologies
efficiently, exploit maximum oil and gas to the surface economi-
cally, extract, store and transport the oil and gas safely. This field
involves mineral survey and exploration, earth exploration and
information technology, mineral engineering, engineering me-
chanics, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and traf-
fic and transportation engineering. The curriculum provision
should take them into consideration. The curriculum of South-
west Petroleum University (SWPU) for the postgr aduate for pro-
fessional degrees is listed in Appendix II, and the practical link is
listed in Appendix I.
The topic of the dissertation of engineering ma sters should be
derived from the actual project or have definite technical back-
ground, which means the research and composition should go
along with the practice. The supervisors should be experienced,
conscientious, high level staffs with senior technical titles in
campus or industrial establishments.
The Training Mode
Comparing with the training mode of the general academic
postgraduates, the purse and methods of the education of engi-
neering masters are very different, which make s us have to inno-
vate to adapt to the demand of the petroleum enterprises. In
SWPU, we have established several types of training modes
based on the disciplines of the education of postgraduate after
several years of exploration.
1) On-job postgraduate for professional degrees
There are several training modes for the technicia ns in oil and
gas enterprises and college teachers.
The first mode is the cooperating training of the college and
enterprises. This mode is mainly for the technicians in the petro-
leum enterprises, and it is some k ind of customized training. The
enterprises can set some courses based on their technical de-
mands, and participate in the selection and management of the
students. The enterprise sho uld make the inspectio n and appraisal
of the students’ degree dissertation and participate in their oral
The second mode is the cooperating training of the colleges.
For the convenience of the students and to make the most of the
resources of the brother school, we have made agreements with
several schools to cultivate postgraduates cooperatively such as
Chongqing Institute of Technol ogy. We take charge of the quali-
fication examination of the supervisors, teaching materials and
send teachers to give some core lessons. The whole training
process is supervised by both schools.
The third mode is fully released from work. To improve the
theoretical level of the petroleum technicians, recent years we
have accepted several consignments to train the engineering
masters for the Xinjiang Oil-field Company of PetroChina, the
Northwest Oil Marketing Company of PetroChina, Huabei Oil-
field Company, etc. The students will spend 1 year in SWPU
fully released from work, they can take different courses based
on their own needs. The participation in the academic activities
and the communication with the supervisors will help them finish
their study successfully.
2) Full-time postgraduate for professional degrees
In SWPU, we began enrolling full-time postgraduates for pr o-
fessional degrees in since September 2009, and were authorized
to make experiments of the education reform of the training of
postgraduates for profe ssional degrees in Septembe r 2010. There
are 2 systems of our training mode in our exploration according
to the training purposes and regulations, that is, the system of
teaching in classroom and the system of engineering practice.
The students are trained mainly by cooperation with the petro-
leum enterprises. They complete the theoretic courses in class to
get enough credits in school. After that, they ’ll be sent to differ-
ent engineering practice bases. T he practice link will help famil-
iarize themselves with some engineering soft ware and composite
the opening report of t heir researc h projects, which is an efficient
way to acquaint with the methods and ideas to solve the problems
in the fields. There are 2 types of dissertations for their degrees.
One is combined with the in-situ production, t he format of which
is not fixed and the topics mainly involve the actual engineering
design, application of engineering software to solve production
problems, analysis of engineering cases, feasibility study of en-
gineering problems, study of one aspect of a large-scale engi-
neering problems, etc. The other type is combined with the re-
search of application projects of the supervisor s, which is mainly
to solve the actual engineering problems. The workstation for
graduate students in our school has established a stable group of
technologists, who have strong theoretical background and rich
experience in production. During the process of the composition
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Q. Y. LIU, Z. B. LIU
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 849
of their thesis, the supervisors on site will take charge of the
whole directing, the supervisors at school are responsible for
monitoring their progress. By the productive practice and the
engineering practice, the students can not only complete their dis-
sertations for their degrees, but also can train their skills and
qualities to be petroleum engineers, which will help them to get a
According to the demand of talen ts in oil and gas engineering,
the proportion of post graduate for profe ssional degrees should be
increased. The purpose to train professional graduate students
should be specified, and the training schedule should be reason-
able. Efficient methods to combine the theoretic education and
practice link will make the training of postgraduate for profes-
sional degrees to be the cradle of petroleum engineers.
This paper is supported by the Pilot Project of the Compre-
hensive Reform of the Education of Graduate Students for Pro-
fessional degrees on Oil & Gas Engineering of the Ministry of
Deng, S. (2010). Some thoughts of the education of the full time post-
graduates for professional master’s degrees. Fujian Tribune, 12, 91-
Gu, J., Guan, Z., & Su, Y. (2009). The explora tion of raising the quality
of engineering masters: Let the training of engineering masters in oil
and gas engineering be an example. Journal of China University of
Petroleum (Social Sciences Edition), 25, 110-112.
Jiang, J. (2011). The research of the thoughts and the strategies of the
education of the full time postgraduates for professional master’s de-
grees. China Education of Light Industry, 2, 37-38.
Li, M., Du, D., & Yao, J. (2011). The research of the implementation of
comprehensive approach of the reform of the education of post-
graduates for professional degrees. Petroleum Education, 4, 83-85.
Wen, Y., Liu, Q., Tang, F., & Zhao, Q. (2010). An exploration into
education practice of program of master of engineering. Journal of
Southwest Petroleum University (Social Sciences Edition), 3, 101-
Zhu, G. (2011a). Current status and prospects of engineering education
in China. Research in Higher Education of Engineering, 6, 1-4.
Zhu, G. (2011b). Discussion on engineering education ideas. Research
in Higher Education of Engineering, 1, 1-5.
Zhang, L. (2011). Discussion of some problems in the curriculum pro-
vision for the postgraduate for professional degrees. Master’s Thesis,
Shanghai: Fudan University.
Q. Y. LIU, Z. B. LIU
Appendix I
The practical link of Southwest Petroleum University (SWPU) for the postgraduate for professional degr ees.
Content Site Project Period Credit Semester Remark
(Training center of oil and gas engineering) Opening report of the research of
professional direct ions 2 weeks1 Spring Obligatory
(Practice center of oil and gas engineering
software application) Applicatio n of engineering software of
the professional directions 4 weeks2 Spring
(Enginee r ing experi ment base) Design of the experiment of
professional direct ions 2 weeks1 Spring
Design of the project o f professional
directions 2 weeks1 Spring
Optional (c h oose one
of these courses)
(Engineering pra c ti ce base )
Training and practice of profe s s ional
skills 6 weeks6 Spring Obligatory
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Q. Y. LIU, Z. B. LIU
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 851
Appendix II
The curriculum of SWPU for the postgraduate for professional degrees.
Course Structure Course Name Period Credit Semester Remark
Theory and practice study of socialism
with Chinese characteristics 36 2 Autumn Obligatory
Introduction to Dialectics of Nature 18 1 Autumn Obligatory
Foreign Lang ua ges English 60 3 Autumn Obligatory
Comprehensive qua l it y
Mathematics Engineering mathematical model and
numerical methods 60 3 Autumn
Theory and methods of o i l and gas
engineering 60 3 Autumn
The standards and qu alifications of oil
and gas industry 40 2 Spring
Degree courses
HSE (Health, Safety and Environment)40 2 Spring
Modern drilling and completion
technology 40 2 Autumn
Reservoir p r otectio n t echnology 40 2 Spring
Oil and gas well working fluid technology40 2 Spring
Modern CAE 40 2 Spring
New logging technology and applic ation40 2 Spring
Oil-gas well engineering
Theory and d esign of drilling and
completio n experim ents 40 2 Spring
(choose any
two of these
Technology of oil and gas field
development 40 2 Autumn
Numerical Reservoir s imulation 40 2 Spring
Technology of stimulati on 40 2 Spring
EOR 40 2 Spring
Modern CAE 40 2 Spring
Mining techn ology of oil and gas wells40 2 Spring
Oil and gas field
development engineering
Theory and design of oil and gas
development experi ments 40 2 Spring
(choose any
two of these
Gas storage and transportation
engineering and safety technolo gy 40 2 Autumn
Oil and gas pipeline engineering and
design 40 2 Spring
Numerical analysis of pipeline network
and optimal design 40 2 Spring
Integrity managem en t o f storage and
transportation system 40 2 Spring
Management of oil and gas marketing40 2 Spring
Optional courses of
different professional
Oil and gas storage and
transportation engineering
Theory and design of oil and gas stora ge
and transportation e xp eriments 40 2 Spring
Optional (any
two of these