The Department of Petroleum Engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has long been recognized as one of the premiere programs in the nation for those looking to break into the oil and gas industry.
Now, the school and students are seeing the benefits of a unique accreditation that many hope will catapult the university into a global leader in the field.
“When I first came here, they asked me to get this thing going. I said, ‘Sure. I’m a petroleum engineer,” said university instructor Randy Andres.
It’s only been three years since UL’s petroleum engineering department hired Andres as an instructor, but his love affair with oil goes back a long way.
“Roughnecking in high school,” Andres says with a laugh. “I’ve been in the industry for more than 40 years, specifically in drilling.”
This school year mark’s the first time any college or university in the nation has received accreditation in well control training.
2010’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion took the lives of eleven people 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, making the accreditation that much more important.
“This is what this lab is all about. Since the event in 2010, the government wanted to step in and make it regulatory that they wanted to control how we were going to be educated,” informed the UL instructor.
Students in the department now graduate International Association of Drilling Contractors-certified, making UL the only school in the nation to offer such an accreditation.
“Now, when I go out there and find a job, I can actually boast about it and say, ‘Hey, I graduated from an accredited university in drilling engineering,” said Nigerian student Radiat Ibrahim.
Whereas most programs only offer computer based simulations, UL’s well control simulators allow students a hands-on approach to learning.
“I didn’t realize how unique it was when I first came here. I thought most universities had this, but there’s no place where you can physically have the same things you might see on a rig,” said student Wilson Salgado from New Jersey.
Andres says UL’s six operating labs give students the best in class industry education while being mindful of why that education is so important.
“Unfortunately, something like [Deepwater Horizon oil spill] is going to happen. All we can do is the best we can do to educate our people,” said Andres.