Passion Runs Deep in the Subsea Engineering Society
Diego Lamacchia presents in front of students and professionals at the Lunch & Learn Series hosted by SUT-SES at the University of Houston. Photo: Anna Heller
Houston, TX - It’s a Friday afternoon on the University of Houston campus, most students are rushing and anxious for the weekend, while a diverse group of students and professionals make their way into a small lecture-type classroom near the east edge of campus.
The first to arrive is Babalola Komolafe, a Subsea Engineering Masters Student heading towards his last semester at the University. He wears a grey polo with an ‘SES,’ logo printed on his left side. Bright with a smile and contagious charisma, he introduces himself as the Professional Development Chair of the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT)-Subsea Engineering Society (SES).
SUT-SES is a ‘society designed to serve technical professionals in all aspects of the Subsea Engineering field. It is a growing body of engineers, technologists, and geotechnicians dedicated to promoting innovation and excellence within the subsea industry.’
The society is only fitting, since the University of Houston has played host to the ‘nation’s first graduate program in Subsea Engineering, producing the first generation of formally trained subsea engineers in the United States.’
As Komolafe continues into the classroom, eager to set up for the event to begin, he is followed closely by the events main speaker, Diego Lamacchia PE, PMP, a director of projects for Genesis Oil and Gas .
I watch as other members of the SUT-SES executive board begin to show up and take their place in the set-up for the 2nd part in their lunch and learn series, presented by Genesis Oil and Gas, each member prepared for what’s to come.
A poised Lamacchia, waiting at the front of the room preparing for his presentation, expresses his delight in the opportunity
“I feel quite happy, it’s a way to give back all the knowledge you’ve gained through years of experience.” Lamacchia said when asked about presenting at the Lunch & Learn event, “Basically what we do at Genesis is oriented to subsea engineering and the subsea engineering society is a student organization and to me it’s good to be able to tell them in simple terms. That’s what we do in the series here, basically breaking down all the concepts so they can put it together by themselves.”
The objective SES’s Lunch & Learn Series is to bring students and professionals (research and industry) together. Collaborating and networking on current topics involved in the subsea engineering field. Helping to ease the students’ transition into the industry, while effectively putting what they’ve learned to work. Today’s topics covered an overview of the subsea engineering industry, the impact of the downturn on the subsea industry, and subsea asset delivery process.
Mentoring is a large part of the collaboration between SUT-SES and the professionals in industry, learning from a professional’s past experiences can help give students a prospective on their future in industry.
“I’m good at mentoring young guys. At the end of the day it’s not what you know, what you know is yours, that’s why you come here to school.” Lamacchia said, “It’s what you can do; a young guy can do anything he or she wants if they understand that. What you can do with that knowledge is basically what I try to pass on, if they can put all the pieces together, they can do whatever they want.”
As more students trickle into the classroom and the event begins, I continue to watch as the SES executive members work, near flawless, running the event, providing lunches, recording the lecture, and making sure all participants are checked in. It was seemingly routine, as if rehearsed time and time again.
There was a common theme throughout the afternoon, as I had the opportunity to speak to some of the SES executive members while the presentation was taking place; each spoke of their common shared goals. To bring industry and academia together and to give back to the members in order to best prepare them in their own professional development.
“The beauty of engineering is the interrelationships between different disciplines.
So you have to define your career path, even if you want to go into management and leadership you want to start from somewhere and build a career path.” Komolafe said, “A lot of people today don’t know what they want to do in five years, it’s always good to have a guide from people who have experienced this in the past.”
This professional guidance is of great value to the members of SUT-SES. To have the opportunity to gain experience from professionals who have been through different situations in industry, such as the economic oil downturn, puts things into perspective for students venturing into the professional world. Preparing them for situations, both expected and unexpected.
Henry Egejuru, a well spoken Subsea Engineering Graduate Student and SES Professional Development Chair, expressed the drive and commitment for the society, “We work with industry professionals to see what they can offer to the organization, to build the relationship between the organization and the professionals in the industry. To bring in their wealth of knowledge and experience in whatever way we can is a major aim.”
It’s not only the professionals that are giving back in terms of opportunity and experience; the executive board members show a team drive and commitment to excellence in service.
“The major reason I joined was to give back to the students and our members. What we have to offer, it’s things you don’t get taught in the classroom and experience is one thing you can never take away from anyone.”
Egejuru said, “We know there is always room for improvement and that is what we discuss at our meetings.”
The executive members of SUT-SES are constantly working towards improvement, by hosting different events and bringing in a variety of experienced professionals for lectures such as the Lunch & Learn series. The executive board shows a parallel to how they work together to organize and plan events with how they would have to organize and prepare for offshore projects as professionals in industry.
With a diverse group of students and professionals, they have to be open-minded and work together in order to put on successful events, such as the case with industry.
“As you can see, everyone is from a different part of the world, but we all come together for a common goal, which is something that everyone of us would experience in work. The society is open to anyone, we have people from mechanical, petroleum, chemical; because the honest truth is that subsea is a combination of every branch of engineering.” Egejuru said, “You have to know how to relate to such people and how to manage a team, basically that’s what we are. We are a team and we all have to manage each other together and deliver the best we can to our members.”
The president of SUT-SES, Stacy Short, an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering, has worked with the committee on team development, acquiring industry sponsors, event logistics, company tours, and lecture series.
“My duties are tasked closely with all Executive Board Members for each event. As a leader you are required to keep everyone motivated, disciplined, and diligent in all tasks.” Short, who also has over six years of executive administration experience, said, “My professional experience has taught me how to manage a team effectively and have a positive team environment where we can have an open line of communication from the top down.”
There’s no doubt that this is something that has been put into practice, as I continued watching the team work strategically during the day’s Lunch and Learn Series.
“It’s essential to build the team morale and ensure the team is gaining exposure and sharing knowledge in the areas that the team is passionate about.”
The passion exudes the executive board and extends to the rest of the society’s members as many of them sit eagerly listening to Lamacchia speak about his experiences working in the subsea industry.
A student member of SUT-SES, Tosan Egbejule, attended the lecture by Lamacchia and expressed how the impact of events like this have on his future in the industry.
“SUT-SES has been a great help to me professionally because it give me the avenue to meet with industry professionals. Then we have different sessions such as resume critic sessions,” Egbejule said, “which help us critic our resume to prepare us for career fairs and job interviews. Right now I’m not working in the industry, but I know what’s going on out there and I can speak about it because of SUT-SES.”
All other information gathered from SES website, with their permission.There was a room full, as more than 55 students and professionals attended this lunch and learn series. It’s a good sign for SUT-SES and the possibility of growth of membership looks promising.
Moving forward, the executive board has goals of building their student and professional membership in hopes of increasing awareness of the subsea industry while branching out within interests in Subsea Engineering to include topics or events in leadership, business, and charitable causes.
“We have an annual resume critique, technical writing contest, and cocktail & networking reception that consists of strategic planning and organization between the entire team. Our newest development has been creating a Mentorship Program with SUT-US that we are really excited for.” Short said about opportunities that SUT-SES presents to members.
“Engineers, by nature, are life-long learners, therefore it is imperative that engineers have an understanding to the inner workings of a business and lead others to become successful engineers.”
As the school year begins to wind down, the executive board is continuing to keep their passions at the heart of their work, and this passion and commitment is clearly visible as more and more events prove successful, giving all involved experience and insight into the profession of subsea engineering.
The next event hosted by SUT-SES will be their 3rd Annual Cocktail & Networking Reception on May 17, 2017. For more information about SES and their events visit their webpage: www.subseaengineering.org
Mr. Diego Lamacchia is no longer with Genesis but is currently VP Operations with Leviticus Subsea
All other information gathered from SES website, with their permission.