UND petroleum engineering student explores major and family roots in Norway


Kate Menzies

Document Type


Publication Date



UND petroleum engineering student explores major and family roots in Norway

For Bottineau, N.D., native Whitney Page, a recent study-abroad experience allowed her to explore her petroleum engineering major and connect with her family roots at the same time.

This past summer, Page and three other University of North Dakota students ventured to Norway for a month-long intensive course on Special Topics in Petroleum Engineering: Experimental Reservoir Physics. It was made possible by a collaboration between the Petroleum Research School of Norway (NFIP) and the UND Petroleum Engineering Department.

"Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine, but I didn't think it was possible due to the limited programs available to match UND's engineering programs," said Page.

A partnership between UND and NFIP enabled Page to receive hands-on learning in petroleum engineering overseas. The collaboration was solidified with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), paving the way for faculty, research scholar, and student exchanges between the two entities, as well as collaborative research in the petroleum and other energy fields. The MOU allows UND to join an elite consortium of international universities and organizations that are dedicated to energy research and education.

Experiences like these often broaden students' horizons and can lead to potential job opportunities, as was the case for Zach Alcorn. Alcorn, another petroleum engineering student who went to Norway, actually was invited to pursue a Ph.D., at NFIP. Page and Alcorn, Camden, Ohio; were joined in Norway by John Lewis and Ben Engleman, Boise, Idaho.

While in Norway, the UND students were taught through hands-on learning and were given access to state-of-the-art labs and equipment in and outside of normal class hours.

For Page, this trip was significant in more ways than one.

"I have always wanted to travel to Norway because I have family roots there," Page said.

While in Norway, Page was exposed to the people, food, scenery and culture, furthering her connection to her heritage.

Speaking of family ties, "My interest was sparked by my two older brothers-one is a land man and the other is also a petroleum engineer," Page said. "Both graduated from UND."

With the western part of the state gushing with oil, a career in petroleum engineering seemed like a good choice to Page.

"Right now, oil and gas is the 'it' industry, not just in North Dakota, but in many different parts of the country. North Dakota is in the midst of an economic boom and there are a lot of opportunities for young professionals," said Page.

The five weeks in Norway proved to be a very positive experience for all of the UND students.

"As an individual, I have become more independent. As a student, I have a better understanding on things such as rock properties," said Page. "Studying at a different university from your 'home university' allows you to diversify yourself and it was great to learn in a foreign environment. Learning from professors at a new university allowed me to understand previous classes I had taken from a different perspective."

UND's College of Engineering & Mines is challenged to provide its students with hands-on experiences. The School of Petroleum Engineering at UND has surged in growth in just a few short years, from four students at its start to nearly 300 today. It is study-abroad experiences, such as the one in Norway and the opportunities it provides, that is making UND a prime choice for aspiring petroleum engineers.

"I am definitely part of a UND family, so it was never really a question (where I would go)," Page said. "It's a great school and I have been given more opportunities than I ever dreamed of."

Kate Menzies University & Public Affairs student writer

This document is currently not available here.