Petroleum Engineering


Drink everybody's milkshake.


Like it or not, the world runs on that sweet, black crude. While it would be tempting to turn this into a digression about how weird it is that we fuel our civilization on dead dinosaur goo, we'd rather...

...actually, no. Sorry, we can't pass that one up. That is super weird.

If there is any sort of human/dinosaur afterlife, that is going to be one awkward conversation. Probably a whole lot of them. But at least you might get to ride a T-Rex afterwards.

Where were we? Right, hydrocarbons. That's a fancy name for things like crude oil and natural gas. The fuel that civilization runs on…which still occasionally explodes on us. Maybe dinosaurs are vengeful ghosts. We wouldn't put it past them. Velociraptors are mean.

Hydrocarbons can be a little tough to deal with, you know, what with the exploding and all. So we need people who are well-trained enough to tame them, and that's where petroleum engineers come in.

Other than wrangling the stuff, they also have to look for it and refine it. Crude oil, much like Morlocks, Mole-Men, and sandworms, lives underground. Petroleum engineers handle digging it out.

Then you have oil, but…it's still crude. No, it's not running around telling dirty jokes in mixed company. It's just not refined. It has to go through a chemical process, eventually becoming (among many other things) gasoline.

The more refined it gets, the less pollution we create.

If you haven't already guessed it—and of course you have, you're smart—this is also handled by petroleum engineers.

This major can't help but be a little controversial. After all, hydrocarbons are a finite resource and using them can have a devastating effect on the environment. Still, it's a good way to earn a living until the shift in renewable energies happens.

Petroleum engineers can also focus on improving the industry so that it causes less damage. Cleaner burning fuel, cheaper and safer ways of harvesting it, and even more effective ways of finding deposits are all worthwhile endeavors.

Famous People who majored in Petroleum Engineering

  • Linda Cook, eleventh most powerful businesswoman in the world
  • Yoshiaki Fujimori, president and CEO of General Electric Asia
  • John E. Bethancourt, executive VP at Chevron
  • Mark W. Albers, senior CP at ExxonMobil
  • Daniel Plainview, from There Will Be Blood
  • Bruce Willis and the entire crew in Armageddon

Percentage of US students who major in Petroleum Engineering:


Stats obtained from this source.