The University of Houston has signed a memorandum of understanding with an Angolan university intended to boost technical training and reduce the southwestern African nation’s dependence on foreign technical expertise.
UH will collaborate with faculty at the University Agostinho Neto (UAN) to improve training, mainly connected to oil and gas, enabling more Angolan students to populate open positions in the oil-rich nation.
Though still in the very early stages, the MOU would aid Angola in one of three ways. This includes establishing a certificate program, an exchange program sending undergraduates to UH to finish their final year of study or sending UH faculty to Angola for week intervals to help carry out an accelerated master’s program in petroleum engineering, said Suresh Khator, UH Cullen College of Engineering associate dean for graduate programs and computing facilities.
“The training will help them to develop their engineers and increase the number of students who finish at University Agostinho Neto and go into technology fields,” said Khator, noting officials had indicated during a November visit graduates fill less than half the open positions in the country each year.
Part of a larger initiative spearheaded by the international engineering and project management company AMEC Paragon, the effort brings UH and AMEC Paragon together with AMEC’s parent, AMEC plc.; Prodoil Exploracao e Producao de Hidrocarbonetos SARI, UAN and AMEC Paragon and Prodoil’s joint venture company, Paragon Angola Engenharia e Servicos Lda.
“With Angola’s capabilities and stability continuing to advance, we want to be among the first to organize an effort that will help the country become more self-sustainable by enhancing the technical capabilities of its people,” said Terrance Ivers (1980 BSME), president of AMEC’s Houston-based subsidiary AMEC Paragon. “We wanted the two best engineering schools situated at two of the largest global hubs of the energy industry. UH and UAN were the natural selections for our academic team.”
An alumnus of the UH Cullen College of Engineering, Ivers said his company and Paragon Angola have a long history of providing engineering and design services for oil and gas projects in the country, which just a few years ago came off a 27-year civil war. The two companies as well as other international energy companies, have been taking small steps to aid the country and its future engineers for years. Ivers said he felt partnering the two institutions and the companies was the next logical step to further efforts to increase technical training.
“Our industry needs to step up and develop the next generation of technical expertise in Angola through cross-training opportunities, curriculum development, student transfer and adjunct professor opportunities to increase the region’s technical knowledge,” Ivers said, noting companies such as Chevron Corporation, BP America, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Total, Sonangol, Eni, Schlumberger are already partnering in the effort.
Through regular, quarterly meetings in Angola he hopes to continue to develop the initiative and increase participation of other international energy companies.