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Published April 24, 2013, 10:43 PM

Oil boom comes to UND

A particularly young UND program is booming just like the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota. The Petroleum Engineering Department began just three years ago, with only four students. That number has grown exponentially and now faculty is worried for what's next.

A particularly young UND program is booming just like the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota. The Petroleum Engineering Department began just three years ago, with only four students. That number has grown exponentially and now faculty is worried for what's next.

It's a really exciting time for the school of Engineering and Mines. Three years ago North Dakota was ranked 4th among the top oil producing states in the country. Adding a Petroleum Engineering department seemed second nature, but it's the level of interest has stunned just about everyone.

Joel Brown: "It's been insane just to watch the way it's exploded."

Mel: He's what the department refers to as one of the four "founding students".

Joel Brown, UND Senior: "When I came here my sophomore year there were four of us in the major."

Three years and 130 students later the dean of the College of Engineering and Mines is speechless, but says the growth is a direct effect of the boom in western oil patch.

Hesham El-Rewini, College of engineering and mines Dean: "Everywhere I go people talk about North Dakota and the oil boom in North Dakota, and we are getting students from not only North Dakota and Minnesota, we're getting students from all over the world."

Graduating students plan to give back to the state that originally peaked their interest in the field.

Joel: "I know that it's the plan of each of the guys I'm working with to move back to western North Dakota."

But, the program's massive growth has caused some worry among the faculty..

El-Rewini: "We are scared for what might happen next year or the year after."

At this rate, the school wouldn't have the resources to house or even educate an estimated caliber of more than 250 students, which is why a plan for the future to build a collaborative energy complex is in the works.

El-Rewini: "The minute we finish with the money we will start the groundbreaking right away."

The projected building is estimated to cost about ten million dollars with most of the funding coming from private sources.

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