INTELLIGENT WORK FORUMS
FOR ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALS

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
• Talk With Other Members
• Be Notified Of Responses
• Keyword Search
Favorite Forums
• Automated Signatures
• Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

#### Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

# Too old to start as Pete Eng?

## Too old to start as Pete Eng?

(OP)
Hello, I'm new to this site and found it while doing a search for info. I am currently in the USAF and will be retiring soon. I have been accepted to and I'm currently working towards my degree in Pete Engineering. But I will be 46 years old when I enter the job market. With oil prices hitting the lows they are and hearing about new grads having issues getting jobs I am wondering if I should changing fields. I have 20 years experience in aviation maintenance and worked 4 of those years in a job along side engineers. So I know this is a field I want to enter. But I'm just concerned about the job prospects after graduation. Any advice anyone is willing to give would be great! My second choice is Electrical Engineering. I appreciate any and all help!

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

All industries are cyclical. Oil and Gas cycles just make the news more often. People that started a Pet Eng program in 1982, 2004, 2011, etc to graduate during the disaster of 1986, the Global Economic Crises of 2008, or the current price collapse did have difficulty finding employment. There was still some hiring going on, but it scaled back to the best Pet Eng schools (Texas A&M, Colorado School of Mines, University of Tulsa, University of Texas, Texas Tech, etc.) and slowed way down or stopped at programs that didn't have the track record of the top tier schools.

I have always thought that the people who entered Pet Eng programs during the various collapses were the smart ones. Nothing lasts forever, and the need for petroleum products is only increasing, so if I was a 42 year old with my 20 in I would consider both my age and the current downturn to be positives and go for it.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

(OP)
Thanks for the reply. After doing some research Pet Eng seems to be a growing field. But entering later in life with little direct experience is a little nerve racking. I'm retiring back to Alaska and will be attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Not sure where they rank among the other schools though. I know the oil industry pumps a lot of money into the school. So I am hoping it will be a good place to go and start the next chapter!

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

It isn't a school that you hear about in the top tier, but Alaska is so remote, that I would be shocked if there wasn't an "indigenous peoples" mindset (i.e., anyone you hire in Fairbanks doesn't have to be moved from the lower 48) that we see all over the world.

I know when Amoco had a district office in Anchorage (working the offshore wells in the Cook Inlet off the Kenai Peninsula) it was the hardest district to get transferred to. I was working in the General Office back then and I had no problem traveling from Tulsa to London, Calgary, Trinidad, or Argentina, but I had to submit a request to an executive VP before I could go to Anchorage. Fairbanks may be a very good choice, I just don't know.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

(OP)
I guess I have a little more research to do on job availability up in AK. I would like to find something that keeps me in the state. But I know things are shaky up on the slope right now. I guess only time will tell, thanks again!

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

My best advice is, stay with what you're doing, as long as you can like it.

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

(OP)
BigInch thanks for the reply. Staying in the military isnt something i want to do. 20 years is enough for me, i have enjoyed my time. But its time to move on and Engineering is the direction i want to move in. Appreciate your advice though.

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

Yes you said that you are retiring from the military. I was referring to staying with aviation. I'm sure you've got a rather large investment in it and it will take you the same number of years or probably more to recoup that in another field. I'm all for developing new skill sets, but you have to realize it can have a very heavy associated cost.

As it's not the best of times for oil, so at least you won't lose the first 3-4 years. With the price of oil (jet fuel) set to come down, I'd be buying up av stocks. There is a US Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife, EPA, etc. as well. Alaska must need some looking after the environment and seems like you want to live up there for some reason. Not a fit? Alaska had aviation before oil, and it'll be there afterwards too.

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

There is nothing wrong with wanting to put down the wrench and ear muffs. There are a lot of people on eng-tips.com that completed their military service with a skill useful in the civilian world (mine was nuclear power) and then go to college to get an engineering degree and work in an unrelated field. Happens all the time. People spend a military career doing something and then often want to be higher on the pecking order than straight conversion of skills would put them. Happens all the time and should happen all the time.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

(OP)
David, you hit the nail on the head. Im looking to get away from wrenching and in AK most maintenance is done by small FBO's. They don't and really cant pay a lot, and there are no hubs there to move up the chain. Im not looking to be rich but I have 3 kids that need to go to college! On top of that the family wants to set roots. That plus my age has me a little worried about the Pet direction. I want to use my GI Bill to change careers and do something that I am pretty sure I will enjoy is what's on my scope. I have already been knocking out classes and should only have 3 years to graduate when I retire next year. My guess is that production is going to increase up north and the job outlook should be better in 3 years. They just approved Shell to drill up there and the state is looking hard at the natural gas pipeline. So I am betting on there being jobs up there that will keep me in the state for at least awhile. If I could go another 20 years and stay there it would be great. But I know that's not always the case. Thanks again for the inputs guys!

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

One thing that you need to ask yourself is "Do I want to be a Pet Eng or am I interested in the Oil & Gas industry?" Either answer should point you to a path. I'm a ME and have had a heck of a career in surface facilities, compression, and downhole pumping. If you are interested in geology, rock mechanics, and geophysics then Pet Eng is a really good way to go. If you like building stuff, pipe flow, multi-phase flow, corrosion, and flow measurement kinds of things then ME might be a better way to go. There are certainly more ME's in Oil & Gas than Pet Eng guys. Many of the ME's are in petroleum jobs. Few Pet Eng are in ME jobs.

When I got out of the Navy I treated college as a job, I already knew how to drink, was married, and I'd come to grips with dealing with my hormones. I got my BS in 33 months. It is quite doable, you just have to convince your adviser that 19-24 semester hours is a fraction of the work you did in the service. I never once felt overloaded, in fact I was able to get hooked on a soap opera while in school (that really sucked when I got a job in the pre-DVR days) while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Getting your first job out of college, your grades matter (even though they will never matter again, they really matter for the first job) the cut off for most Major Oil & Gas companies is a 3.8 out of 4.0, second tier companies usually will look at applicants with a 3.6 (smaller companies rarely hire new grads), below that you are pretty much limited to service companies. Service companies work you to death, but at the end of 2-3 years, all of the producers are interested in you. That is really the most common path to a production company these days (when I started in 1980, the path was reversed, the service companies and smaller producers poached from the Majors--there were something like 150 engineers that started with Amoco the day I did, 10 years later there were 3 of us still with Amoco, most of the rest were doing quite well at smaller producers).

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

Interesting discussion here, and I know that zdas and myself have fundamentally the same opinions on life in general, and northern experience, altho in vastly different fields. However I have to ask the OP has he really researched opportunities in Alaska or is just assuming that a good man can work up there. I have zero knowledge of Alaska but I do know the Canadian equivalent, the Beaufort sea, died a natural death in the early 1980s. A few men made a pile of money initially but then it seems Canadian society refused to accept the potential ( perceived??) environmental consequences of development and I don't think a single barrel or bcm of gas has produced in the last 30 years. I wonder if there isn't more opportunity in the Dakotas or somewhere else in the south. Most of recent Canadian O+G is south of 60.....just like the Dakotas, there's been so much stuff found down south that nobody wants the risk of going north. If the OP wants to live in Alsaka for personal reasons, that's one thing. If he wants to earn  to put his kids thru school that might be a different discussion.

(OP)

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

Well, I wouldn't want to be seen as overly negative but I'm glad I'm not in your shoes. I have put 40 years into the mining business, might milk it for another 5 years, but I could retire tomorrow quite comfortably. You are 42 years old, still with family responsibilities. I am assuming you are an American citizen, apparently based in the UK ( an area I have extensive knowledge of). If you've put 20 years into the military, have lived in Alaska for 12 years, and are perhaps more familiar with the British way of life than American, I feel compelled to remind you that, anyone in the military is to some extent insulated from the realities of civilian life. THat is why so many have trouble making the transition. Depending on how long you've been in the UK , you're even further removed from first hand knowledge of the realities if life, in the real world, back home. And as an Alberta resident, I know how much the oil patch is presently suffering.

I suppose putting a more optimistic view on things is, since Alaska obviously holds roots for you , do your university education up there but be mentally prepared to move back to the lower 48 upon graduation if necessary. ANd I too have been nose to nose with caribou so can speak with some authority on the Canadian north. In general terms, society is putting increasing restrictions upon all activity in the Arctic, and until we start suffering blackouts or gas shortages in San Fran, or Toronto, or New York, I cant see it changing for the better. You probably already know this, but you need to do a pile more research and if you're restricted to the Internet, I don't know how you do this effectively.

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

Prudoe Bay and the rest of the North Slope (all of which has been stimulated by hydraulic fracturing by the way) is declining. The infrastructure is in place to produce reduced volumes, but the equipment and piping are starting to see systemic problems. It is hard to see if they'll be fixed or the fields will be abandoned.

(OP)

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

Yup; good discussion here.

One point I haven't heard much on is this: an Engineering discipline is no walk in the park. Obviously you have discipline from the military and age, and anyone is capable of learning if their desire is strong, but a four year curriculum can really knock your wrench in the dirt if you're not ready for it. The hole digging, geology and reservoir classes will be very interesting and even enjoyable, but you also have to go through the foundations of basic engineering: calculus, differential equations, thermo, heat transfer, etc. which can be fairly dry especially if taught by grad student with an incomprehensible accent. No disrespect to your ability, but there have been many spend a couple years before realizing they just don't like those subjects and then change or quit. Just sayin....

### RE: Too old to start as Pete Eng?

(OP)
DubMac great point, I am just starting Calc I and so far so good. I basically started over from Algebra I and worked my way back up since I know Engineering is math heavy. I have been in and out of school for years. Depending on if I am home or not, so I'm used to being in class. That being said I only really need about 2 1/2 to 3 years of school to graduate. Basically the math, physics, and engineering specific courses. All the core and elective stuff is done. I have an electronics background so the physics and application stuff has not been a problem for me to this point, I really enjoy that stuff. I have also worked in some engineering jobs as a technician, big change for me and I had to slow down. But I really enjoyed doing it, not like wrenching on jets! I have taken a lot of dry boring classes unfortunately but I made it through them. I'm the type person that once I set a goal I work to achieve it no matter what, the military made me anal like that. So it would have to be a lot to make me stop. Now if someone offered me my dream job I would walk away from this, but what are the chances of that! LOL We will see about the foreigners though! Haven't had to deal with that yet! That could suck because its sometimes hard for me to even hear what people are saying! I think if I get into Pet and find I don't like it as much as I thought my plan is to move to Electrical and a lot of what I am doing will transfer. I'm also the type that needs plan B and C! Thanks for the input!

#### Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

#### Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Close Box

# Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

• Talk To Other Members
• Notification Of Responses To Questions
• Favorite Forums One Click Access
• Keyword Search Of All Posts, And More...

Register now while it's still free!