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How Can I Prepare for Petroleum Engineering at Marshall University?

by Kevin Wandrei, studioD

Marshall University, located in Huntington, West Virginia, offers numerous degrees in its geology department, and some of these overlap considerably with the study of petroleum engineering. In particular, Marshall's bachelor's degree in engineering geology provides important insight into the field of petroleum engineering. To be prepared for this study, students should arrive at Marshall with a background in math, science, and the social sciences.

Earth Sciences Classes

Before enrolling at Marshall University, students should make sure their high school education includes some sort of earth science component. Doing so will assure that students arrive on campus with a head start in learning the basic principles of geology. Engineering geology students, for example, must take courses in physical geology, earth materials and soil mechanics. Many of these topics are covered at an elementary level in an earth science course. In addition, earth science will help students put their goal of petroleum engineering into a broader perspective by introducing the environmental concerns surrounding petroleum extraction.

Physics Introduction

Any engineering degree, whether in petroleum or otherwise, inevitably relies on physics as its most fundamental base of knowledge. Students in the Bachelor of Science in engineering geology program at Marshall, for example, are required to take two physics lab courses in addition to two general physics introductory courses. Arriving on campus without prior physics knowledge would make these four classes much more difficult. In addition, students will apply their physics knowledge in other courses, like Intro to Engineering, which relies heavily on knowledge of physics.

Advanced Mathematics

High school mathematics, especially geometry and calculus, will help a student progress through his or her engineering geology degree at Marshall. The degree requires courses like Analytical Geometry and Calculus, and having prior knowledge in these subjects will be helpful. It may even be possible to substitute high school credit for these courses, and spend time at Marshall taking more advanced mathematics. Petroleum geology requires using advanced mathematics to calculate how to extract petroleum with close precision.

Outdoor Experience

While the relevant degree at Marshall does not require any outdoor experience, the field of petroleum geology requires significant time outdoors. All geologists, in fact, will spend a lot of time on fieldwork, irrespective of their specialty. As such, it is critical that students learn how to properly navigate in the outdoors before arriving at Marshall. The skills of most importance include mapping and directional abilities, because petroleum geologists are often required to find potential oil sites that are not well-marked on maps. Being able to use devices like compasses and GPS systems, for example, will come in handy during field work.

About the Author

Kevin Wandrei has written extensively on higher education. His work has been published with Kaplan, Textbooks.com, and Shmoop, Inc., among others. He is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Cornell University.

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