Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, Supplement, 100-103
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes ( DOI:10.4236/ce.2012.37B026
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Let Professional Degrees Graduate Education for Oil and Gas
Engineering Become the Cradle for the Birth and Growth of
Petroleum Engineers
Zhibin Liu, Qingyou Liu
Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu, China
Received 2012
The demand of the talents in petroleum engineering of petroleum enterprises is analyzed in this paper ac-
cording 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-
Keywords: Engineering Education; Petroleum Engineering; Professional Degree Graduate Students;
Recently, the engineering education is developed rapidly in
China and we have made a lot of achievements [1]. In 2010,
there are 6.6 million students were enrolled in universities and
colleges, 47% percent of which, 3.1 million, were higher voca-
tional college students. About 470,000 graduate student were
enrolled in this year, and there were 23%, 110,000, professional
master degree candidates. There were 34,000 master degree
candidates of engineering in these professional graduate stu-
dents. Moreover, a pilot project of doctor of engineering has
be launched. However, there is still a strange phenomenon in
talents supply and demand, which is the contradiction between
the employment difficulty of the graduates and the lack of tal-
ents needed by enterprises. The direct reason of this situation is
the mismatching of the supply of labor educated in school and
the demand of the enterprises and markets.
In the “Outline of the Plan of the Medium-long Term Na-
tional 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 devel-
oping direction of the engineering education, and the main mis-
sion of the future postgraduate education is to adjust the educa-
tional 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 level of these two types of education needs 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 Engineer
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.
There are mainly 4 levels of engineering and technical per-
sonnel needed by the national petroleum enterprises. The first
level is the normal skilled workers, i.e. the specific operators.
The second level is the normal engineering and technical man-
agers. The third level is the engineers, they are in charge of the
engineering and technical affairs. The fourth level is the re-
searchers of engineering and technology. According to the sta-
tistic, the proportion of the demand is 60:28:10:2. The mis-
matching of the supply and demand comes from the ignorance
of this proportion and the inaccuracy of the education target.
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.
The third level and the fourth level are obviously different,
Z. B. LIU, Q. Y. LIU
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
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, in which the
senior engineer seems to be researchers.
There are 3 second disciplines under the first level discipline
of oil and gas engineering, which are oil-gas well engineering,
oil and gas field development engineering, oil and gas storage
and transportation engineering. The petroleum engineers with
more broad and in-depth knowledge should be the specialists of
all these fields, otherwise, they can only be drilling engineers,
reservoir engineers, or oil production engineers.
The Training Schedule and Mode of the
Postgraduate for Pro f essional 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 spec ialist education for
general 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
degrees contains course learning, practice link and dissertation.
Oil and gas engineering is to drill and probe the hydrocarbon
resources underground with scientific theories and technologies
efficiently, exploit maximum oil and gas to the surface eco-
nomically, extract, store and transport the oil and gas safely.
This field involves mineral survey and exploration, earth ex-
ploration and information technology, mineral engineering,
engineering mechanics, chemical engineering, mechanical en-
gineering, and traffic and transportation engineering. The cur-
riculum provision should take them into consideration. The
curriculum of Southwest Petroleum University (SWPU) for the
postgraduate for professional degrees is listed in Appendix I,
and the practical link is listed in Appendix II.
The topic of the dissertation of engineering masters should
be derived from the actual project or have definite technical
background, which means the research and composition should
go along with the practice. The supervisors should be expe-
rienced, 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 makes us have to
innovate to adapt 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.
On-job postgraduate for professional degrees
There are several training modes for the technicians 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 pe-
troleum enterprises, and it is some kind of customized training.
The enterprises can set some courses based on their technical
demands, and participate in the selection and management of
the students. The enterprise should make the inspection and
appraisal of the studentsdegree dissertation and participate in
their oral defenses.
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
Chonqing Institute of Technology. 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 Oilfield Company of PetroChina, the
Northwest Oil Marketing Company of PetroChina, Huabei
Oilfield 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.
Full-time postgraduate for professional degrees
In SWPU, we began enrolling full-time postgraduates for
professional degrees in since Sep. 2009, and were authorized to
make experiments of the education reform of the training of
postgraduates for professional degrees in Sep. 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 pe-
troleum enterprises. They complete the theoretic courses in
class to get enough credits in school. After that, they’ll be sent
to different engineering practice bases. The practice link will
help familiarize themselves with some engineering software
and composite the opening report of their research 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, the 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 engineering problems,
study of one aspect of a large-scale engineering problems, etc.
The other type is combined with the research of application
projects of the supervisors, 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 pro-
Z. B. LIU, Q. Y. LIU
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
duction. During the process of the composition 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 prac-
tice, the students can not only complete their dissertations for
their degrees, but also can train their skills and qualities to be
petroleum engineers, which will help them to get a job.
According to the demand of talents in oil and gas engineering,
the proportion of postgraduate for professional degrees should
be increased. The purpose to train professional graduate stu-
dents should be specified, and the training schedule should be
reasonable. Efficient methods to combine the theoretic educa-
tion and practice link will make the training of postgraduate for
professional degrees to be the cradle of petroleum engineers.
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Appendix 1.
The curriculum of Southwest Petroleum University (SWPU) for the postgraduate for professional degrees.
Course Structure Course Name Period Credit Semester Remark
quality courses
Theory and practice study of socialism with Chinese
36 2 Autumn Obligatory
Introduction to Dialectics of Nature
18 1 Autumn Obligatory
Foreign Languages English 60 3 Autumn Obligatory
Engineering mathematical model and numerical
60 3 Autumn
Degree courses
Theory and methods of oil and gas engineering 60 3 Autumn
The standards and qualifications of oil and gas industry
40 2 Spring
HSEHealth, Safety and Environm ent 40 2 Spring
Optional courses of
different professional
Oil-Gas well
Modern dril l i ng and completion technology 40 2 Autumn
(choose any
two of these
Reservoir protection technology 40 2 Spring
Oil and gas well working fluid technology 40 2 Spring
Modern CAE 40 2 Spring
New logging t echnology and application 40 2 Spring
Theory and design of drilling and completion
40 2 Spring
Oil and gas field
Technology of oil and ga s field deve l opment 40 2 Autumn
(choose any
two of these
Numerical Reservoi r simulation 40 2 Spring
Technology of stimulation 40 2 Spring
EOR 40 2 Spring
Modern CAE 40 2 Spring
Mining technology of oil and gas wells 40 2 Spring
Theory a nd design of oil and gas development
experiments 40 2 Spring
Oil and gas storage
Gas storage and transportation engineering and safety
technology 40 2 Autumn
Optional (any
two of these
Oil and gas pipeline engineering and design 40 2 Spring
Numerical analysis of pipeline network and optimal
design 40 2 Spring
Integrity management of storage and transportation
system 40 2 Spring
Management of oi l and gas marketing 40 2 Spring
Theory a nd design of oil and gas storage and
transportation experiments 40 2 Spring
Z. B. LIU, Q. Y. LIU
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Appendix 2.
the practical link of SWPU for the postgraduate for professional degrees.
Contents Sites Project Period Credits Semester Remark
Practical link
center of oil and gas
(Practice center of oil and
gas enginee ring software
(Engineering experiment
Opening report of the research of
professional directions 2 weeks 1 Spring Obligatory
Application of engineering software of the
professional directions 4 weeks 2 Spring
Optional(choose one of
these courses)
Design of the Experiment of professional
directions 2 weeks 1 Spring
Design of the project of professional
directions 2 weeks 1 Spring
(Enginee ring pr actice base) Training and practice of professional skills 6 weeks 6 Spring Obligatory