Subsea Systems Institute (SSI) was established in 2015 as a Texas Center of Excellence under the RESTORE Act and is a collaboration between the University of Houston, Rice University and Johnson Space Center (NASA). In addition, SSI and the University of Houston have partnerships with Lone Star Community College, Texas Southern University, Houston Community College and other colleges to lead research and develop training and educational programs to accelerate energy related workforce development in critical areas for the state of Texas.
The purpose of SSI is to focus on offshore energy development, including improving sustainable/safe development, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico. The vision and objectives for the institute are to:
- Support economic and workforce development in the State of Texas through collaboration between research institutions, colleges and industry
- Develop best available technology and risk mitigation practices to positively impact offshore safety by bringing together NASA, industry and academic expertise
- Provide unbiased third-party validation and establishment of best practices to build public trust in the sustainable and safe offshore drilling and production operations in the Gulf of Mexico region and beyond
- Attract and retain talent for jobs and investments in the local, state and national economy
As a result of the DeepWater Horizon incident, President Obama signed into law the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act, otherwise known as the RESTORE Act.
The RESTORE Act established the Restoration Trust Fund, which allocated 2.5% of the money received in civil penalties to create Centers of Excellence in the five Gulf Coast states to further Gulf coast science, monitoring and technology.
Then-Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) awarded the funds (roughly $4.1 million) for the Texas Center of Excellence to the consortium partners of the University of Houston, Rice University, and NASA Johnson Space Center.