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Subsea Tieback Foundation emphasizes technology to younger generation

Mikaila Adams  

As many professionals know, conferences provide opportunities in various forms. Thought leaders gather to share knowledge and collective experiences crucial to a particular industry, and in the midst of the activity, like-minded professionals network and ideas are formed.

Such was the case in 2005 when a group of industry professionals, on the way to attend PennWell's Subsea Tieback (SSTB) Forum & Exhibition in Galveston, TX, stopped to play a round of golf and threw some money into a hat for the winner. Instead, the group decided to use the money to fund a scholarship that supported a degree and a career in the subsea business.

The subsea business is one of the fastest growing sectors of the oil and gas industry and the idea to fund scholarships to support a younger generation of professionals grew rapidly. In 2006, a newly-formed board of directors built the Subsea Tieback Scholarship Fund. Today, the board of what is now known as the Subsea Tieback Foundation (STF) consists of six members, each with more than 30 years of experience in the offshore and subsea segments.

In line with the idea's conception, golf tournaments scheduled to coincide with the SSTB Forum raised money that was used to support annual scholarships. From there, the concept expanded.

The process of engaging the universities revealed a greater need: to inform and educate society at an earlier stage about the offshore and subsea business, emphasizing how technically challenging and rewarding a career in these fields could be. The board established an Education Committee in 2010 whose goal became to fill the "exposure void" that exists for the sectors by organizing presentations and activities connected to various institutions and organizations.

By addressing students from kindergarten through grad school with presentations specific to each audience, the Education Committee reaches students of any age.

Photo courtesy of Subsea Tieback Foundation

Photo courtesy of Subsea Tieback Foundation

The committee recently presented at Porter High School and to schools in the Humble Independent School District in Texas. A number of additional activities are planned, including the continuation of a series of sponsored junior high and high school presentations from engineers within the industry on the challenges and high-tech nature of the business.

The STF continues to provide scholarships and sponsor-ships to students in offshore engineering-based curricula. This year, seven students were sponsored to attend the annual Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers conference. Additionally, for the third year, STF is sponsoring the annual Teacher Summit focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math. The foundation also is sponsoring a Capstone Senior Design Project at Louisiana State University. The program challenges a team of students to plan, engineer, manufacture, and deliver a subsea-related product in a two-semester timeframe.

In support of such activities, the STF now has three separate fundraising events. In 2011, STF expanded on its annual golf tournament and added a sporting clay event and a three-gun shoot.

"We began our mission eight years ago with a common goal to increase awareness of the subsea and offshore engineering disciplines in the oil and gas industry. Our goal was to inform and educate at all grade levels of school, colleges and early careers" said Randy Seehausen, STF treasurer.

"The STF goals remain the same but now we will see a greater emphasis on assisting young careers to select from the many engineering disciplines available offshore such as structural, electrical, mechanical, chemical, robotics, etc.

"It is our hope the STF will contribute to this cause for many years to come and our belief in the character of our people that will make it happen."

Said Don Wells, STF chairman: "The energy and excitement that I am seeing behind not only the STF volunteers, but the teachers and students and industry members that are hearing our story, is only further evidence that what we are doing is not only needed, but is being well received and appreciated by all that come in contact with our efforts/mission."

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