press release

USC Distance Learning Goes International

Viterbi Engineering School's Innovative DEN Partners with ChevronTexaco to Offer Unique 'Smart Oil' Classes Worldwide


Issued by ChevronTexaco Corp. and the University of Southern California

LOS ANGELES and SAN RAMON, Calif., Jan. 6, 2005 -- An educational revolution has spread worldwide. The University of Southern California Engineering's innovative Distance Education Network (DEN) and ChevronTexaco Corp. announced today DEN is now offering its innovative "smart oilfield technologies" program to ChevronTexaco engineers around the world.

DEN, part of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, is a leader in digital learning at the graduate level. Through a special partnership, ChevronTexaco engineers based in the U.S. already enjoy access to a groundbreaking USC program with the latest innovations in "smart" oilfield production techniques. ChevronTexaco operates worldwide and, now, so does DEN.

This semester DEN will begin enrolling ChevronTexaco engineers working outside the United States, under the terms of an agreement jointly announced today by the company and the USC Viterbi School.

"As the difficulty of meeting the technology challenges increases, I am pleased that DEN can now provide ChevronTexaco engineers all over the world with an advanced educational program incorporating the new technologies. DEN will enhance our ability to develop these needed capabilities in our global workforce," said Don Paul, ChevronTexaco vice president and chief technology officer.

The first ChevronTexaco international students will be engineers at the company's Aberdeen, Scotland operation. Engineers working at other of the oil giant's far-flung international sites (the company has 47,000 employees in 180 countries) are expected to enroll in future semesters.

USC Viterbi School Dean C.L. Nikias said that the agreement with ChevronTexaco was in keeping with the vision of USC's latest strategic plan, adopted for the university's impending 125th anniversary, which includes an explicit call to "create a significant global presence that will increase international visibility, reach, and impact of our research, scholarship, art, education, and service."

"This is exactly what this agreement will accomplish," said Nikias. "And the technology we will be teaching is one that will have a major impact on world supplies of a critical raw material.

ChevronTexaco engineers will have the opportunity to enroll in two DEN programs: the general M.S. in Petroleum Engineering, or a new, unique degree: the M.S. in Petroleum Engineering (Smart Oilfields Technologies), the only degree of its kind offered by a major research university.

The Viterbi School's ChevronTexaco-financed Center for Interactive Smart Oilfield Technologies (CiSoft), co-directed by USC's Professor Iraj Ershaghi and ChevronTexaco's Mike Hauser, conducts research in the field, investigating signal transmission, robotics, data mining and methods of using high performance computers to visualize and monitor the structure of underground oilfields and systematically maximize resource recovery.

"At a time when petroleum supplies are under accelerating demand, we are enthusiastic that DEN will be able to provide the working engineers all over the world with an educational program teaching the new technologies under development," said Ershaghi.

These two M.S. programs are among 26 DEN offers to the more than 900 professional engineers currently enrolled from corporations across the United States.

With courses delivered via streaming media, international students can view course lectures both live and archived. DEN will provide its full scope of student services, including academic advisement, enrollment, homework processing, exam proctoring and technology support to the ChevronTexaco employees.

DEN Executive Director Kelly Goulis said that her organization "is very excited to go international. We believe the educational interface we've developed working with the Viterbi School's Information Sciences Institute is the best in postgraduate engineering e-learning. We are confident that we can deliver to Scotland as effectively as we now deliver to Houston, New Orleans and Bakersfield, California. Our new Scottish students – and those in other nations in the future – will get an experience completely on a par with their fellow students in U.S. DEN classes, and, indeed, with those on campus in Los Angeles."

Goulis anticipates similar arrangements with other international firms in the near future, and not just oil companies. "We have a proven product. We anticipate that DEN will be as successful abroad as it has been in the U.S."

ChevronTexaco Corp. is one of the world's leading energy companies. With more than 47,000 employees, ChevronTexaco conducts business in approximately 180 countries around the world, producing and transporting crude oil and natural gas, and marketing and distributing fuels and other energy products. ChevronTexaco is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information on ChevronTexaco is available at

The University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering graduate program, which enrolls more than 3300 students, is listed as sixth in the nation (third among private schools) in the U. S. News and World Report rankings for 2004. With more than $135 million in external funding support, the school is among the nations highest in volume of research activity. More than a third of its 165 faculty members are fellows in their respective professional societies, 23 are members of the National Academy of Engineering, and 40 have earned Presidential Early Career, Presidential Young Investigator or NSF/NIH Young Investigator awards.

Updated: January 2005