Robotics and Automation in the Energy Industry Symposium - University of Houston
Skip to main content

Robotics and Automation in the Energy Industry

March 26, 2021
10:00 AM


*Active on March 26, 2021


Advances in automation, haptics and robotics along with artificial intelligence, machine learning and other digital based technologies have disrupted a wide range of activities in the energy industry. These technologies are starting to be rapidly incorporated in the field to improve safety, reliability, efficiency and reducing cost. Advancements in developing autonomous activities through robotics combined with augmented reality and virtual reality are defining the cutting-edge of industrial automation and the symposium will discuss the opportunities and barriers for the continued rapid growth of automation in the energy industry. The implications for the continued growth of automation on the workforce in the energy industry will also be discussed.


Image of Dr. Aaron Becker

Dr. Aaron Becker

Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering Department
University of Houston

Aaron Becker's passion is robotics & control. As an Associate Professor in Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Houston, his lab builds robots and trains the next generation of robotics researchers. An NSF '16 CAREER recipient & winner of several best papers, his lab manipulates micro-scale swarms with magnetic fields, navigates robotic tools using medical MRIs, kills mosquitos with drones, searches for oil, and assembles structures with swarms.

Previously as a Research Fellow with Boston Children's Hospital & Harvard Medical School, he implemented robotics powered and controlled by the magnetic field of an MRI. As a Rice University Postdoc in the Multi-Robot Systems Lab, Aaron investigated control of distributed systems and nanorobotics with experts in the fields. Aaron earned his PhD in Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.



Image of John Allen

John Allen

Industry Liaison
Allen Energy Consultants, LLC (AEC)

As an industry expert and consultant to Subsea Systems Institute (SSI), John has contributed his perspective on the varying challenges facing the energy industry and the initiatives proposed by researchers developing solutions to those challenges. John began his career with General Electric Company (GEC) of England PLC founding GEC Oil and Gas and managing the Deepwater Production and underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) business, both commercial and military.

John by acquisition joined ABB and served as CEO for ABB Seatec and Vice President of Technology and Engineering for Oil and Gas Inc. He also served as the Director of the corporate ABB Oil and Gas Research Center (Zurich/Houston), coordinating technology across ABB Offshore Systems, Lummus Engineering & Deepwater and Vetco. John moved to General Electric (GE), by acquisition and moved into the role of Executive General Manager in GE Energy. He was responsible for GE Corporate’s business with major oil companies.

This included upstream, midstream, downstream and power generation. John is a graduate of the University of Surrey with a Bachelor of Science in Physics, a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of London and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Bath. John is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Society of Underwater Technology and chairs multiple Industry initiatives.


Image of Julie Angus

Julie Angus

CEO and Co-Founder
Open Ocean Robotics

Julie is the CEO and co-founder of Open Ocean Robotics, a marine drone company that is transforming how we understand and protect our oceans. She is a leading adventurer, bestselling author, scientist and entrepreneur, who was awarded National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year award when she became the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean from mainland to mainland.

She has written three books, produced several documentaries and has a graduate degree in microbiology. She is a serial entrepreneur and also had a successful career in business development and technology transfer. Explore Magazine listed her as one of North America’s leading adventurers and Canadian Geographic named her one of Canada’s Greatest Women Explorers. Julie is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society and recipient of numerous awards including the University of Victoria Distinguished Alumni Award and McMaster University Young Alumni Award.

Julie lives in Victoria, BC with her husband, Colin, and two children, Leif (10) and Oliver (6).


Image of Mauricio Calva

Mauricio Calva

Manager of the Research and Development Program for Inspection Technology

For 35 years Mauricio has been working in various aspects of Non-Destructive Evaluation and inspection technologies including field work, lab applications, technology development and research.

For the last ten years he has been with Chevron based in Houston with rolls as NDE Engineer and Level 3, and as the Manager of the Research and Development Program for Inspection Technology. His work is focused on goals that include finding alternatives for safer, higher quality and efficient solutions.

He is exploring integration of advanced cameras and NDE sensors with robotics platforms, as well as new systems, probes, applications and workflows to improve the process of inspection in all areas within the Corporation. Mauricio has a degree in Physics Engineering and a Master’s degree in Materials Physics.