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Colorado School of Mines: A dominant force in Petroleum Engineering

Image courtesy of Colorado School Mines

In the heart of Golden, Colorado, a town nestled in the foothills of the iconic Rocky Mountains, sits the Colorado School of Mines – a respected public research university specializing in engineering and applied science. At the core of this world-renowned institution is the Department of Petroleum Engineering, a recognized powerhouse in higher education.

Offering opportunities for students to work alongside some of the world’s top educators in the field, Mines strives to prepare students for long and rewarding careers in the oil and gas industry, emphasizing integrated, interdisciplinary teamwork in both classroom instruction and research.

The department’s website exemplifies these ideals through its mission statement.

“Our mission is to educate engineers for the worldwide petroleum industry at the undergraduate and graduate levels, perform research that enhances the state-of-the-art in petroleum technology, and to serve the industry and public good through professional societies and public service.”


With its undergraduate program ranking 3rd in the world by US News & World Report, and the postgraduate program named 5th, the quality of education offered by this institution speaks for itself. Through a culture of lifelong learning and innovation, Mines encourages students to become leaders, providing each student the foundation needed to kick-start a global career in some of the world’s most impactful industries focused around earth, energy and the environment.

The College of Earth Resource Science and Engineering, or CERSE as it’s more commonly known, houses some of the school’s oldest areas of study, blending tradition with innovation to produce the next generation of leaders in these fields. Students and faculty within petroleum engineering work closely with researchers across CERSE, engaging in cross-disciplinary research to tackle the complex global issue of meeting the world’s energy needs.

Amongst these collaborators are the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, the Department of Geophysics, the Division of Economics and Business and the Department of Mining Engineering. Petroleum engineers in the industry commonly join forces with geologists and geophysicists for effective exploration, as well as experienced economists for decision-making and policy analysis. CERSE’s commitment to interdisciplinary research focused on real-world issues proves incredibly beneficial for graduates embarking on this exciting global career.

The Reservoir Characterization Project (RCP) is a prime example of how Mines integrates real-world learning into its student experience. As an industry-funded geophysical research consortium committed to the study of integrated reservoir characterization, RCP’s “unique model emphasizes a multidisciplinary, collaborative team approach for practical research and preparation of graduate students”.

Amongst the many other interdisciplinary research centers across Mines is the Unconventional Natural Gas and Oil Institute, or UNGI, an innovative training initiative established in 2012 in line with the rapid expansion of the shale natural gas and oil development sector – estimated to be worth US$219 billion at the end of 2016.

Image courtesy of Colorado School Mines

As part of a petroleum engineering education, students must learn the importance of ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR) within the professional field. Courses taught in the Division of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) within CERSE provide this critical knowledge, enabling students to not only consider corporate interests in engineering, but also socio-political impacts on local communities and the environments in which they live.

Located in Golden, Mines is not only a vibrant and engaging place to study, but also a legitimate hub of professional opportunity. With a total of 33 federal laboratories, Colorado boasts one of the highest concentrations of federally funded science and research centers in the entire United States.

Golden itself is home to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (located on-campus). The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Center for Atmospheric Research are located just a few miles north in Boulder, CO.

And with leading companies like BP Lower 48, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Newmont Mining headquartered in Colorado, the state is a well-known industry hub, offering a wealth of internships and potential job opportunities for students who make their mark. The  bi-annual Career Fair gives students the chance to network with influential industry figures long before they graduate.

Image courtesy of Colorado School Mines

“There are numerous areas for significant professional career growth for petroleum engineers—from drilling technology to the design of exotic fluid systems to inject in reservoirs to the increase of oil recovery,” the institution explains. “Salaries for petroleum engineers are, and will continue to be, among the highest paid of all professionals.”

The Colorado School of Mines was founded on a few simple principles, with a history of engineering innovation and excellence in earth, energy and environment. Petroleum engineering is one of the oldest fields of study offered at Mines, yet one that continues to have a profound impact on the global economy and societal energy needs of today. For a student truly interested in engineering change, the Colorado School of Mines is a perfect choice for higher education.

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