Few Going into the Future of Fuel

1 decade 7 months 2 days ago Thursday, November 15 2007 Nov 15, 2007 Thursday, November 15, 2007 9:11:04 AM CST November 15, 2007 in News

You'll be surprised to learn that for an industry that's so vital to our future, there's virtually no interest from the college kids of today. So, are there jobs in Missouri?

"No. We just don't graduate many in petroleum engineering," said Trey Mitchell of Kansas City.

Petroleum engineering? Petroleum engineering sure looks complicated.

Mitchell spent three days getting ready for Wednesday's class presentation.

"In high school, I rarely studied everything came pretty easy to me. Here studying isn't an option; you have to do it," said Mitchell, a petroleum engineering student.

Professor Sheri Dunn-Norman teaches a class called Well Completions. 

"UMR is not the most difficult school, but it certainly is a selective university," said Dunn-Norman.

It was selective for Mark Chapman of Eureka.

"I was either going to go to play soccer or go to engineering school," explained Chapman. 

At Mizzou it's the columns, at University of Missouri - Rolla it's Stonehenge. Probably the most recognized landmark on campus, Stonehenge can tell you what day of the year it is, but what it can't tell you is how few students gradaute from this campus with a degree in petroleum engineering.

"This semester I'll probably be the only one," said Chapman.

Only one graduate in a field that pays so well.

"Right now we're looking at start-up packages with 401k over 100 thousand dollars a year, it's incredible," explained Dunn-Norman.

Matt Bower will graduate in May.

"There's a reason petroleum engineers are the highest paid. There's the demand is always there. America is not going to stop needing oil," explained Bower.

Bower is headed off-shore. Mitchell is going to Texas or Oklahoma. Chapman's first job will be in Dallas. There's really no peer pressure, they all want to get oil out of the ground.

"All of the oil in the ground is not in a pool. When you see those cuts in the road, it's in the pores. So, we have to create highways so all that oil can flow downtown to the wellbore. And we have to get them all downtown in an efficient manner," explained Chapman.

"If it sounds complicated, it is. Even if someone in the garage comes up with an alternative fuel, would that put an end to oil exploration?" asked Dunn-Norman. "I think that's a misconception right now. We don't have alternatives to replace oil and gas, and we're going to be challenged more and more for that third trillion barrels or oil we have two. But the third is going to be harder more tech and more thinking smarter kid."

Norman adds with so few students wanting to go into petroleum engineering, there are lots of scholarships available. However, she warns unless your son or daughter has a passion for getting oil out of the ground, she would not recommend the program for a student who's just in it for the money.

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