Galveston Student Chapter Presents First Short Course


Anna Heller SUT May 1, 2017
Students of Texas A&M University at Galveston attend the first short course presented by SUT-TAMU Galveston. Photo: Lise Sieber
Students of Texas A&M University at Galveston attend the first short course presented by SUT-TAMU Galveston. Photo: Lise Sieber

Galveston, TX- Three members of the Society for Underwater Technology’s (SUT) Offshore Site Investigation and Geotechnics (OSIG) Committee presented technical talks regarding their work in the offshore energy sector to students at Texas A&M University at Galveston.

This short course was the first to be hosted by SUT’s student chapter, SUT-TAMU Galveston, since being reinstated in January. The February 17th short course included the following technical presentations:

Shawn Williamson (BHP Billiton Petroleum), “Integrated Site Investigation of Seafloor Features and Associated Fauna”

David Driver (BP Upstream Engineer Center), “Ocean Dynamics- Metocean Study in Oil and Gas”

Kim Faulk (Geoscience Earth and Marine Services: GEMS), “Archaeological Surveys”

Approximately 30-40 students attended the short course and many stayed later into the evening to continue to network and speak with the professionals about the presentations.

Marissa Malinoski, the Student Chapter President and junior in Marine Engineering, said the goal of the course was for students to engage with professionals in industry while taking the opportunity to learn about what to expect upon graduation.

“Everyone that I’ve talked to really enjoyed it, I had a few students asking me for (the presenters) contact information. Because our school is so small, we have less than 5,000 students, getting everyone to come to these kinds of things can be difficult at times, but I definitely think they liked it.”

Shawn Williamson, of BHP Billiton Petroleum and Chair of the SUT-US OSIG Committee, was very enthusiastic about participating in the re-launching of the SUT-TAMU Galveston Student Chapter, “I encouraged Marissa to invite students from all of the TAMU-Galveston degree programs to the short course as a way to solicit a broad base of student chapter membership. Due to their location on the Gulf Coast, the Galveston campus’ focus on marine studies is a natural fit for promoting underwater technology.”

SUT TAMU Galvestion
David Driver presents at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Photo: Lise Sieber

Williamson’s presentation focused on integrating various AUV geophysical and geotechnical data with ROV visual observations, to characterize the seafloor in support of site selection and engineering design for one of BHP Billiton’s field developments in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I wanted the students to learn that oil and gas companies believe that safe, environmentally sound practice is essential to our license to operate and goes hand-in-hand with achieving solid business results.” Williamson said.

Jacob Sacco, a junior in Maritime Administration at Texas A&M Galveston and a member of SUT-TAMU Galveston, attended the short course for the opportunity to expand his knowledge on the subjects regarding underwater technology.

“It broadened my view of the challenges that are faced everyday in the industry. It showed me how much there still is to learn and discover.” Sacco said regarding the course, “I still have so much to learn and the only way to do that is to get out in the industry and become exposed.”

The two presentations that were of most relevance to Sacco’s interests were David Driver’s presentation on Ocean Dynamics and storm and weather predictions and Kim Faulk’s presentation on Marine Archaeology.

“The presentation about weather and storms was very interesting to me because I love to learn about Mother Nature and all her fury. For something so important in our daily lives, it is difficult to fully understand and predict.” Sacco said about the presentations, “Archaeology was interesting because very few people address such an important topic. As land dwellers, it rarely crosses our minds how much history was lost to the depths of the ocean; we don’t take much notice to preserving it.”

OSIG Course at TAMU Galveston Kim Faulk
Kim Faulk presents to students at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Photo: Lise Sieber

Malinoski said that other students were similarly interested in the archaeology presentation. Even though there were students from many different majors attending the short course, many of the Maritime Studies students found Faulk’s presentation on shipwrecks and underwater archaeology particularly relevant to their major.

Faulk believes in the importance of exposing students to different professions in industry, not only to broaden their interest, but also to prepare the students for what lies ahead for them in industry.

“One of the key points I always want students to gain when we run a short course is just how interdisciplinary the industry really is. No one does this alone, and no single discipline can solve every problem. It takes team work, different skills, and communication to work in the offshore industry.”

Faulk pointed out, “If we can expose them to new disciplines, new ideas, and offer real world examples, I think we have provided something valuable.”

Williamson agreed with Faulk on the importance of sharing their knowledge with the next generation of professionals within the industry. To continue to be successful in the offshore industry, diversity, teamwork, and discussion between different specializations in the profession will remain important.

“The mission of OSIG Houston is to advance and disseminate knowledge on offshore site investigation and characterization, through a strategic definition of purpose, and its implementation, for the education of students and offshore energy professionals. Short courses like these encourage students to pursue careers in underwater technology and help recruit the top minds of the next generation into our industry.” Williamson said.

Another important aspect for Faulk when it comes to presenting to students is that she hopes to inspire all students, especially young women, to follow their dreams to working in the science, technology, engineering, or math fields (STEM). According to Faulk, a study from IHS in 2014 stated that women make up 19% of employees in the energy sector.

“Inspiring the next generation of archaeologists, engineers, scientists, geologists, and leaders is vitally important if we want a diverse community.” Kim Faulk.

I find it incredibly rewarding to help students make connections they might not have otherwise made. I have had many mentors over the years who helped me open doors, and I strive to pay that forward at every opportunity.” Faulk stated, “The opportunity to present our three disciplines-geohazards, metocean, and marine archaeology to a diverse student group is something we really enjoy doing and look forward to.”

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