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Hands-On Teaching for Petroleum Engineers in the Twenty-First Century

Several years ago, a new concept of teaching undergraduate and graduate students was introduced at the Clausthal University of Technology (CUT) based on the implementation of hands-on teaching systems that not only expose the students to physical models but also require them to build such models or to generate experiments using existing models. The results show an improved learning capability in combination with better knowledge transfer between teacher and students. This paper presents the results of student competitions held at CUT.

Introduction

Several governmental associations have reported that the teaching process in engineering schools is too theoretical. In the 3-year program implemented at CUT, hands-on teaching is focused on simple demonstrators that are designed and built by students under faculty and staff supervision. Petroleum engineering is one of the sciences that cannot always be experimentally shown in a straightforward fashion (for instance, imagine reservoir engineers trying to show a replica of the reservoir in full scale!). Drilling and production systems and processes are easier to model. Field trips are always welcome, but they take time and the students have to give up other important courses.

The mentoring process has been identified by SPE and the industry to be a key in preparing future engineers. But are the students ready for the mentoring process? During the CUT project, students are not only involved in their design project, but are also guided toward the acceptance of mentoring and preparation for a career.

When teaching freshmen, the focus is on providing them the basics for their future career in terms of applied mathematics or physics. They are expected to calculate and estimate complicated processes, but sometimes we forget to ask them such basic questions as, “Do you know what a drillstring looks like?”

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 160017, “Hands-On Teaching for Petroleum Engineers in the Twenty-First Century: A Balance Between High-Tech and Simple Demonstrators” by Catalin Teodoriu, SPE, ITE/TU Clausthal, prepared for the 2012 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, San Antonio, Texas, USA, 8–10 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Hands-On Teaching for Petroleum Engineers in the Twenty-First Century

01 October 2013

Volume: 65 | Issue: 10

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