The engineering program at Texas A&M University includes a freshman "Introduction to Engineering" sequence for the first two semesters of the freshman year. The Qatar campus of Texas A&M University has four majors offered and all majors take this two semester sequence. The overview course covers many subjects for the students and these typically are very broad in scope. Both courses include at least one or several projects.
Each year, freshmen student evaluations are critical of the perceived lack of applicability of the design project to petroleum engineering students. One possible reason for this perception could have been that during the first four years of program startup, there were no petroleum engineering professors involved in teaching this course. Nevertheless we noticed that the projects introduced important skills that petroleum engineers need. A review of the junior and senior curriculum and ABET outcomes confirm this.
In this paper, we discuss some of the projects offered in these freshman courses, and the skills it promotes. We also present the results of a survey that included almost all of the students at Qatar campus from all four engineering majors and compare the responses of the students in terms of the perceived benefits of these courses and the skills it promotes.
Proper design of projects for inclusion of necessary skills and tools for petroleum engineers is recommended to ensure students are equipped with appropriate competencies needed for upper division classes. Our results show that the skills promoted by projects currently being implemented are in line with the skills that petroleum engineering students need for their upper devision classes as well as their careers.