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THECB Approves Petroleum Engineering Department at UH

By: 

Elena Watts

Earlier this month, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the establishment of the Department of Petroleum Engineering within the UH Cullen College of Engineering.

“Department status will enhance our national visibility and facilitate the recruiting of additional world-class faculty members,” said Thomas Holley, department director. “This honor is the culmination of the efforts of the faculty, staff, administration, students and supporters of UH Petroleum Engineering.”

Previously, the undergraduate and graduate programs in petroleum engineering were part of the UH Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering.

Degree options remain the same, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in petroleum engineering. Five tenure-track faculty members, two non-tenured faculty members, 15 adjunct professors and numerous staff members support the instructional programs. The department anticipates hiring two faculty members each year for the next five years.

Last year, 818 undergraduate and 114 graduate students were enrolled in petroleum engineering programs. Of those, 27 undergraduate students and 36 graduate students earned their degrees.

Petroleum engineering is one of the flagship programs in the UH Energy Research Park that contributed to accomplishing the UH Tier One initiative. The 25,000-square-foot Petroleum Engineering Building features state-of-the-art classrooms, teaching laboratories, a computer lab, and faculty research laboratories, which were completely refurbished in 2011.

“The Petroleum Engineering Department expects to continue to meet its immediate milestones for further growth of faculty, space and the Ph.D. program in order to contribute to the Tier One status of the University of Houston,” Holley said.

The Texas Workforce Commission estimates that petroleum engineering will be among the fastest growing occupations in the state of Texas through 2022, with demand for petroleum engineers increasing by 49 percent. Roughly 875 new petroleum engineering positions will be added across the state each year, according to Texas Workforce Commission estimates.

"The University of Houston is the nation's Energy University, and the establishment of its Petroleum Engineering Department is vital to the economic success of the city of Houston, where the demand for engineering talent is higher than in any major U.S. city,” said Joseph W. Tedesco, dean of the UH Cullen College of Engineering. “UH Petroleum Engineering graduates are the next-generation of global, entrepreneurial energy leaders. I look forward to seeing how our UH petroleum engineers will continue to lead and define the energy landscape of the future."

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