UH Moment: "Subsea Engineering"
by: Marisa Ramirez, December 12, 2012 4:12:00 am
"This is certainly the last frontier on planet earth."
Engineering Professor Matthew Franchek refers to deep water—ultra deep, two miles down, where reserves of oil and gas are waiting to be discovered and produced. The process of harvesting it is a game changer in the industry, requiring new expertise. Enter the University of Houston Subsea Engineering program.
"There are no textbooks out there for subsea engineering. Faculty haven't been educated in this area necessarily, so what do you do?" asked Franchek. "You go out and find the experts in the industry to come in and teach this program. And since we're co-located in the oil and gas capital of the world, that's how we're able to invent subsea engineering and offer the first one in the United States."
Subsea engineering refers to the processes that push the extracted oil and gas from the ocean bottom to the surface, responsibly and safely, while negotiating the depth, the high pressures and the arctic-like temperatures. It is the future of the oil and gas industry.
"We listened to the oil and gas companies. We asked where we could play a role," he said. "We figured how to meet their needs of educating the current workforce and developing a new workforce, but also adding an academic end, which will allow these companies to create new solutions."
The burgeoning program, which offers professional certificates and graduate programs, a first in the world in some cases, was woven into the strategic visioning of the college: to become an economic contributor to Houston and Texas.
"So subsea engineering is nothing more than the next installment on the continual evolution of our oil and gas curriculum, and the evolution of UH as the Energy University. There's a lot of reserves, very deep."
The Subsea Engineering program is part of what's happening at the university of Houston.