Students at the University of Houston have formed the nation’s only professional organization focused on subsea engineering.
Nebolisa Egbunike, who will begin the subsea engineering master’s degree program in January, started the Subsea Engineering Society in May.
“Subsea is the future of the oil and gas industry,” he said.
While other engineering disciplines have professional organizations to promote technical knowledge and networking, Egbunike said he discovered over the summer that no similar organization existed for the subsea industry.
He decided to create it himself, working with other engineering students at the University. He will graduate with a mechanical engineering degree in December.
UH began a certificate program in subsea engineering in 2011 and later launched a master’s degree program in the discipline. It is the only academic program in subsea engineering in the United States.
Matthew Franchek, founding director of the subsea engineering program at the University, applauded the students’ efforts.
“The UH Subsea Engineering student body is an entrepreneurial group of professionals who understand the need to network and to commit to lifelong learning,” he said. “The Subsea Engineering Society, supported by the Society for Underwater Technologies, is precisely the vehicle to accomplish these goals.”
The Society for Underwater Technologies is an international, multidisciplinary organization, headquartered in the United Kingdom but with an office in Houston. Egbunike said the two organizations plan to work together in the future.
Subsea work poses a host of technical challenges as the industry pushes further offshore in search of larger deposits of oil and gas, battling colder temperatures and higher pressures.
“There are huge challenges the industry is facing,” said Egbunike, the organization’s founding president. “I felt it was the right time to create a society that equips students and professionals with the right technical knowledge to add value to the subsea industry.”
Adding to the timing, he said, was the fact that the energy industry is preparing for the retirement of the baby boom generation. A professional organization like the Subsea Engineering Society can help to pass on knowledge and prepare for the coming generational change, he said.
Egbunike said the fledgling organization already has more than 80 prospective members; tours of several companies and technical workshops are scheduled over the next few months.
Interest isn’t confined just to students, or just to people in the United States. He said he has heard from people in China, Ukraine and Nigeria, among other countries.
“It’s nice to see people are interested in the subsea industry, and to see how we can make a difference,” he said.
For more information, see www.subseaeng.org.