Petroleum engineering seeks youthful boom

A little over a year ago, Billea Rippe was sharing a small house with a sorority sister near the University of Tulsa campus, driving a 1991 Jeep Wrangler and watching her pennies.   Now, as a newly minted petroleum engineer for Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp., Rippe can afford some of life’s finer things, like her own home in The Village and a 2007 BMW 328i.

Energy companies are recruiting petroleum engineering students off college campuses for jobs paying as much as $100,000 a year in a field that was virtually ignored by students from the mid-1980s until just a few years ago.

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Nationwide, the number of bachelor’s degrees granted in petroleum engineering jumped from about 400 in 2006 to more than 800 last year, according to a Texas Tech University study.

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