Investing in the talent of tomorrow is key to the subsea sector’s ongoing success according to a leading industry organisation.
Subsea UK funds an annual scholarship, which enables successful candidates to study towards a post-graduate MSc in Subsea Engineering. Since its launch in 2011, the Subsea UK Scholarship has funded seven engineering students who, it is hoped, will become the subsea leaders of the future.
"Our vision for the scholarship programme was to attract and develop new entrants who would then go on to drive forward the next generation of subsea services and technology,” explains Subsea UK’s chief executive Neil Gordon.
"The subsea sector generates close to £9 billion and has been on an upward trajectory even in times of global economic uncertainty. While the UK is at the forefront of the industry, that position can only be maintained if we build on the existing talent pool and develop the right skills for the future.”
Subsea UK champions the British subsea sector and acts for the entire supply chain bringing together operators, contractors, suppliers and people in the industry. It has pioneered a number of initiatives to address the skills issue, of which the scholarship, is a key element. Applicants, selected by the board of Subsea UK received up to 80% of the total cost of their studies. The 12 month full-time or two year part-time course involves individual research and lectures, with students also encouraged to attend a number of key industry event
Mark Brain has just completed his studies at Aberdeen University graduating with a distinction, and is now set to join offshore drilling management company ADTI as part of their five-year graduate scheme. He applied for the Subsea UK scholarship after developing an interest in the energy industry while studying for his BSc in Civil and Timber Engineering at Edinburgh’s Napier University.
"Through my attendance at industry events including the Deepwater Development Conference in Madrid and Subsea Expo in Aberdeen, I was able to learn about current developments and trends in the sector,” he says. "I also had the opportunity to work with Subsea 7 on my dissertation, examining the behaviour of pipelines in response to dropped object impacts. That first-hand experience working alongside some of the best engineers in the industry was invaluable.”
"A career in subsea engineering presented the opportunity to work with cutting edge technology and I found the sheer scale of the industry attractive,” says Mark. "I was eager to put the engineering and technical skills that I have learnt to a practical application and the MSc in Subsea Engineering gave me a strong foundation from which to begin a career in this exciting sector.”
Jonathan Capanda was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by Cranfield University and has since accepted a graduate position with JP Kenny, part of worldwide energy firm Wood Group.
"The subsea industry is awe inspiring: you have the opportunity to be a part of a team working on incredible engineering projects at depths and locations you wouldn't believe existed,” he says. "I had fallen into my previous job, and it was just that: a job. I wanted a career and in particular, one that would challenge me.”
Darren Brown, who was one of the first recipients of the scholarship in 2011, was drawn to the subject after learning about the challenges facing exploration and production in ever deeper waters and harsher metocean conditions. He says: "The thought of being able to safely drill thousands of metres below the sea and into the seafloor, all from a floating platform, challenged what I believed was possible and I knew I wanted to play a role in developing these technologies further.”
"Furthermore, the degree gave me a very broad knowledge of the subsea oil and gas industry which has meant that I can confidently interact with other professionals in the field despite my relatively few years of experience in the industry.”
"Although the current trend is away from so-called ‘dirty’ energy sources such as oil, it is going to take considerable time for the global economy to give up its dependence on fossil fuels. Offshore renewable energy relies heavily on technologies developed over the past several decades and much of the skills and knowledge is directly transferable. Engineering skills required in this industry are going to be in high demand for many years to come.”
For Emma Lieper, Donor Relations Officer, University of Aberdeen, working closely with oil and gas companies is as important as providing a comprehensive course of study. "We place considerable importance on engaging with industry both for ourselves as an institution and for the students, many of whom come to study here from around the world, attracted by our position at the heart of the oil and gas capital of Europe. We are dedicated to giving our students the best possible academic and industry experience to better prepare them for their future careers and are proud of the relationships we have cultivated across both the public and private sector in the north-east.”
"Collaboration between academia and industry is important for the health of the industry,” explains Mr Gordon. "It keeps us at the forefront of research, enables us to share knowledge and expertise, and above all else, ensures our industry is provided with highly skilled and experienced workers in the future. As an industry we welcome the fresh ideas and different perspectives that our scholars bring to the table and it is encouraging that as we enter our fourth year, the standard is as high as ever.”
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