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Petroleum engineering lab gets boost

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A drilling fluids laboratory on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s campus will soon get additional equipment due to a rapidly growing enrollment in petroleum engineering classes.

The Evangeline Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineering recently donated $100,000 for the project. Students use the lab for hands-on analysis of drilling fluids, which are used to keep drill bits cool and clean and to prohibit unwanted fluids from entering the drill hole.

Dr. Fathi Boukadi, director of the Petroleum Engineering Program, said the University appreciates the SPE’s contribution and is trying to leverage it to obtain matching funds from the Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund.

In 2007, UL Lafayette’s Petroleum Engineering Program had 150 students. Today, it has 710 undergrad students, 64 students who are seeking master’s degrees and eight doctoral students.

The Petroleum Engineering Program is hiring more lab instructors and keeping its labs open longer to accommodate more students. It’s also duplicating labs to ensure that all students have access to them.

Robert Ponville, chairman of the Evangeline Section of the SPE, said it made the donation because the experience students gain in the lab is so valuable. “We were trying to help with the influx so students have more hands-on time with equipment,” he said.

Boukadi said the University’s program attracts students because its graduates earn high salaries and it has a 100 percent job placement rate. Starting salaries for petroleum engineers with a bachelor’s degree range from $90,000 to $95,000 a year. A student who obtains a master’s or doctoral degree in petroleum engineering can expect to earn about $120,000 a year right after graduation.

Read more on the Petroleum Engineering website.