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Monday, February 6, 2023

Academics & Research

Subsea engineering creates alliance between UH, international schools

The Cullen College of Engineering has been building more than pipe dreams across the global subsea engineering community.

Subsea Engineering Graduate Program Director Matthew Franchek is leading an international alliance between UH and other underwater technology programs that will allow students to work with experts across oceans and borders via an exclusive online course.

“This is a very serious need,” Franchek said in a press release. “We’ve got to generate a new workforce.”


The Subsea Engineering Graduate Program allows students to take courses from other international universities. | Courtesy of Subsea Engineering

UH continues to be the only subsea engineering graduate program in the nation after Franchek, who also directs the International Subsea Engineering Research Institute, established the master’s program in 2013.

Franchek was unavailable for comment, but the college said his current goal is to share the curriculum with other universities and build alliance membership, as well as set expectations for subsea engineering employers. Franchek also plans for UH to become the go-to institution for research and testing in the industry.

The Global Subsea University Alliance includes Bergen University College in Norway, Curtin University in Australia, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, National University of Singapore and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. UH students can already take classes offered at the University of Aberdeen.

Subsea engineers supervise the design, installation and maintenance of tools and equipment used in underwater drilling. The operations are automated or performed remotely, but engineers often face complications caused by extreme temperatures, corrosive saltwater environments and high pressures.

The wave of innovation doesn’t break at the coast of academia. Nebolisa Egbunike, the organization’s president of the Subsea Engineering Society, said that it’s creating invaluable networks for its members.

“I realized there is nothing available for students to learn about subsea engineering in general … in the U.S. and around the globe,” Egbunike said.

The disconnect between incoming engineers and retiring industry veterans was also a concern for Egbunike when he started the group last year. He said he believes that the society can help professionals pass along knowledge.

The society collaborates with gas and oil industry titans Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, BP and many other corporations to organize company tours, professional workshops, lecture series, luncheons, potential internships and full-time work opportunities for its members.

“It’s a diverse group,” Egbunike said. “It has a combination of undergraduate and graduate students. Plus, the membership is open to those studying in other fields.”

He welcomes other engineering, various technology, non-technical students and professionals to join.

The Society of Underwater Technology, which is a nearly 50-years-old professional organization based in the United Kingdom and Subsea Engineering Society were originally separate organizations but joined forces in June.

The partnership will qualify Society of Engineering members for more scholarship opportunities, create deeper industry ties and help build corporate sponsorship, Egbunike said.

Students can visit for more information about the organization and its events.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article ran, saying that Nebolisa Egbunike is the president and founder of Society of Underwater Technology Subsea Engineering Society (SUT-STS). Egbunike is the president of the SUT-STS.

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