LSU Petroleum Engineering Experiences Historic Enrollment Growth


Like most petroleum engineering departments across the country, LSU’s College of Engineering’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering has experienced explosive enrollment growth over the past five years. Opinions vary on the cause, but some attribute it to the historic industrial boom along the gulf coast region, increased energy consumption, new developments in fracking technology and low natural gas prices. Reflected in the workforce needs in the oil and gas industry, is an unprecedented interest in LSU’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering (PETE) and a record number of students enrolling in the program.

While LSU’s petroleum engineering enrollment growth remained steady for the early part of the 2000’s, enrollment has increased 150 percent in the past five years. And, at the risk of being overwhelmed by burgeoning student enrollment, the PETE program implemented a minimum 2.8 GPA threshold admission requirement. The student-centered approach encourages academic achievement and provides all students an equal opportunity for admission into the program. Regarding class availability, PETE has increased the number lab sections and course offerings in both the fall and spring to maintain a quality learning experience for students.

The program is also pursuing new faculty, recently hiring three new members. In addition, the College of Engineering will hire five adjunct faculty for the upcoming academic year and has requested two new faculty and one instructor line for this fall, pending administrative and legislative approval.

Since its inception in 1929, the Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering has set the standard by which petroleum engineers are judged. LSU has a reputation for graduating engineers who are innovative yet practical. Companies look to hire LSU petroleum engineering graduates because of their critical thinking and leadership skills, who are trained to provide the energy that the world consumes today and will need in the future.

For these future engineers, LSU is the only university in North America where students can get hands-on training in well control by working at a full-scale research and training facility. The Petroleum Engineering Research & Technology Transfer, or PERTT, Laboratory - also commonly referred to as the “Well Facility” - is an industrial-scale facility with full-scale equipment and instrumentation for conducting training and research related to borehole technology.

"We believe it's a really important and unique resource that we have here at LSU," said John Rogers Smith, associate professor, LSU Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering. "We're the only school in the United States that offers and requires hands-on training in well control and understanding hydrostatics and pressure control in wells using actual wells. Industry recognizes LSU as one of the best petroleum engineering schools in the country and that makes its graduates more desirable to companies."

LSU’s faculty remain on the cutting edge of research in new hydrocarbons, used to produce both petroleum and natural gas. Arash Dahi Taleghani, assistant professor, Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering with Juan Lorenzo, associate professor of geology & geophysics, recently received funding to simulate real fracturing treatments through the establishment of a hydraulics fracturing lab, the first of its kind at LSU. This research will explore techniques to identify the type and order of interactions between hydraulic fractures and pre-existing natural fractures in the subsurface.

Chelsea Meaux, petroleum engineering senior from Mandeville, La., served as a research assistant/summer intern for Dr. Arash Dahi’s geothermal reservoir engineering research. She helped create an optimal design for hydraulic fracturing in geothermal reservoirs, to maximize the amount of heat being extracted from the reservoir.

“I have enjoyed the research,” Meaux said. “It gives me an opportunity to learn something that I won’t be hearing much about in any of my classes. Knowing the similarities and differences between geothermal reservoirs and petroleum reservoirs has already proved helpful in understanding things about petroleum reservoirs that other people don’t realize. This project is also helping me learn how to do research, which is something I don’t have a lot of experience doing and that I never really enjoyed doing until now.”

Meaux said the most beneficial thing she’s taken away from her experience was learning how to properly conduct research, a critical component she will use throughout her career.

LSU’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering
Founded in 1929, LSU’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering evolved into an accredited department in 1939. Professional courses are offered in drilling and production, well design, reservoir engineering, petrophysics, well logging, and the phase behavior of hydrocarbons systems with specific attention to the economic evaluation of drilling and production operations. Nationally ranked, the program has alumni throughout the world working for major companies, small independent companies, government agencies, and as independent consultants.

For more information about LSU’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering, visit


Article by Mimi LaValle, LSU College of Engineering, 225-578-5706,