Teaching engineers to model

The new Master's program Computational Engineering aims to educate engineers to make better decisions using modeling tools.

Illustrative image: Professor Aksel Hiorth points to a screen, a student looking at the screen. Professor Aksel Hiorth is one of the initiators of the new study program.

As digitization increases, new opportunities have emerged for performing tasks. To make good decisions it is important to have knowledge of different processes, relevant data, as well as good models and skills on how to model. A Master's degree in Computational Engineering makes you eligible for the most demanding and interesting tasks in the private or public sector as an engineer, researcher or leader. Professor Aksel Hiorth (research director at The National IOR Centre of Norway), together with Professor Steinar Evje and Professor Reidar Bratvold, is the initiator of the new study program.

«We have developed many good methods in our research and see that these fit well into a new study program. This will be a form of technology transfer, in order to equip candidates for a continuously changing job market,» says Hiorth.

Better equipped

By learning more about modeling and how to make the best decisions, students will be even better equipped for a more digitized work life. The student will acquire skills that will enable him or her to analyse complex real world problems, and to use this insight as a foundation for better decisions to improve performance, quality, and workflows.The study program forms the basis for more career opportunities.

«In a world where digitization is becoming increasingly important, there is a need for candidates with knowledge of the field, combined with calculation modeling skills. Many companies, including all major oil companies, service companies, research institutes and many of their sub-companies seek this expertise,» says Hiorth.

He thinks the industry seeks different qualities now when they are hiring new people.

«We have seen a shift in the industry. Previously, the industry could pick specialists who could go straight into a specific field. Now we will work more with the methods for making future workers who can work a lot more generally and who have knowledge of tools that can be used in several fields,» Hiorth explains.

Models and modeling

According to Hiorth, the goal of the models is to provide a basis for better decisions.

«When you use computers actively, it is easier to analyze complex issues. We want to teach students to break a complex problem into smaller, manageable parts. This is a form of algorithmic thinking, also known as computational thinking. This is a skill that everyone benefits from, not just programmers. It is a strategy that will allow you to study a specific issue, evaluate different approaches to solve it and understand the strengths and weaknesses of choosing different methods,» he explains.

He emphasizes that the goal is to enable the students to analyse complex real world problems.

«What distinguishes Computational Engineering from other similar study programs is that we focus on decision-making aspects. We want to emphasize that the models we develop will be used as a basis for making decisions that can, for example, contribute to better workflow, or deeper insight.»


Vibeke Haugen is R & T manager and is in the committee of Equinor's Akademia agreement with UiS. Haugen thinks the new master program is exactly what the industry needs.

«The future of petroleum engineers is exactly this; a combination of data, models and gathering information to make better decisions. This is a very exciting program, and a good step in the right direction,» she says.

She emphasizes that the program facilitates building a good level of expertise at the bottom while pointing to knowledge about modeling and decision-making.

«This is the way we, and others, go now. We use core competence together with a good digital competence to make the best decisions,» Haugen explains. She also points to the value of connecting engineers from different fields of study, in order to solve real problems during the study period.

«This creates a very good transition to working life, giving them the opportunity to get lessons from each other while working on actual cases, just as we do in industry,» she says.

Admission requirements: The master program will be open to all students with bachelor's degree in engineering, natural sciences or equivalent with good knowledge of mathematics / physics / statistics and information technology. To be admitted to the program, you must have a bachelor's degree in engineering or equivalent. At least 10 credits in computer science, or an introductory course for engineers including programming is required, in addition to at least 30 credits in math and statistics. The teaching is in English, and the study program is open to international applicants.

Read more:

Nytt masterprogram i Applied data science (Norwegian)
Our study programs
Department of Energy Resources

Text and photo: Mari Løvås