Class Integrates Human Factors Into Petroleum Engineering Curriculum

Students at the University of Oklahoma train on a virtual-reality drilling simulator.

The contribution of human factors in complex commercial and contractual environments such as the oil and gas industry is fully fledged and admitted. With the understanding that cascading failures resulted from human errors, the root-cause analysis of accidents reveals that many of them were preventable. The human factor, however, has not been accentuated thoroughly in this industry, and, traditionally, the focus has been on personnel knowledge and competence. In addition, lack of emphasis on human factors in academia as a backbone of the industry could be another reason for this negligence. Therefore, the proper academic training, which thoroughly emphasizes the nontechnical skills (NTSs) in conjunction with Human Factors, is lacking in the curriculum of complex engineering programs such as petroleum.

For the first time, the University of Oklahoma has offered a Human Factors in Oil and Gas Operations class. The offered course fulfilled the mission of training petroleum engineering students to make an impact on oil and gas industry. In this class, the students were introduced to the required NTSs in the drilling operation. The course content was designed to include technical concepts in drilling such as well-barriers philosophy, challenges in well-flow control, plugging-and-abandonment operation, and kick detection. Also, several NTSs include effective communication, decision-making, situational awareness, teamwork, individual and group scenarios based on well-control training.

The course content reassures that young professionals gain applicable NTSs and carry them to their work environment, asserting safe and environmentally sustainable operations. A novel training approach was offered to integrate the theories of human factors with NTSs through a virtual-reality simulation experience. A state-of-the-art virtual-reality drilling simulator facility coupled with a commercial drilling-simulation software to facilitate scenario-based training for students.

Find paper SPE 187241 on the HSE Technical Discipline Page free for a limited time.

Find paper SPE 187241 on OnePetro.



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