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Subsea Engineering offers first of its kind course focusing on digitization in Oil & Gas

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Stephen Greenwell
Dr. Phaneendra Kondapi.
Dr. Phaneendra Kondapi.
Dr. Phaneendra Kondapi, a professor of Subsea Engineering, assistant dean of Engineering Programs at UH Katy and former director of Subsea Engineering, is now teaching “Digital Approach in Oil and Gas Applications,” a first of its kind in the industry.
Dr. Phaneendra Kondapi, a professor of Subsea Engineering, assistant dean of Engineering Programs at UH Katy and former director of Subsea Engineering, is now teaching “Digital Approach in Oil and Gas Applications,” a first of its kind in the industry.

Citing the increased digitization in the oil and gas industry, a professor at the University of Houston has created the first graduate course to focus on the subject, “Digital Approach in Oil and Gas Applications,” with input from industry sources.

Dr. Phaneendra Kondapi, a professor of Subsea Engineering, assistant dean of Engineering Programs at UH Katy and former director of Subsea Engineering, said the concept initially came to him when he was thinking about new courses to offer to graduate students during the 2020 summer session.

“I thought of developing and teaching a different course that is based on industry dynamics, to benefit students when they get out of the college,” he said. “I thought a digital course would be appropriate and researched them, but I couldn’t find any relevant course in any other universities across the world, except for a few crash-training courses from various organizations.”

Without a suitable model, Kondapi took it upon himself to develop the course, after consulting with industry leaders. Dr. Satyam Priyadarshy, the Chief Data Scientist and Technology Fellow at Halliburton Digital, provided input on the outline of the course and gave a guest lecture as well. Hani Elshahawi, a Digital Lead at Shell Global Solutions, and Ramesh Prabhala, President of data analytics startup company IntelliTide, also gave input to the outline of the course.

“This is the right time that we started this digital course, during a time that the oil and gas industry is in turmoil again, and industry is seriously thinking about moving towards digitalization,” Kondapi said. “Other industries like retail and health care have successfully migrated or have been working toward digitalization for the past few years. The oil and gas industry started its baby steps a few years ago, but it hasn't seriously moved towards digitalization.”

Priyadarshy praised Kondapi for taking the lead in developing a university-level course that incorporated information from industry sources.

“We at Halliburton have been engaged in Talent Transformation education for the Digital Era, through the industry's first Big Data and Data Science Center of Excellence for more than three years now, and we certainly see the need for university level courses,” he said. “I am also thankful to my Halliburton colleagues, Chandra Yeleshwarapu and Dr. Ashwani Dev, who delivered guest lectures to the course. In my opinion, the need for the oil and gas industry professionals to be educated and trained in leveraging Digital Technologies and Solutions for the next generation of the oil and gas industry is paramount, and the effort by University of Houston and Professor Kondapi is a great start in the academic world.”

Asawari Kukde is a graduate student taking the course right now. She said she was excited about the opportunity when Kondapi first described the course to her.

“When Dr. Kondapi informed us students about taking this course, I was very excited,” she said. “Its a first of a kind course being offered by the Subsea Program. Having worked for a few years in offshore and onshore brown field and green field projects before joining the graduate program in Subsea Engineering, I have a basic idea of how traditional the way of working is in the industry. Its really interesting to know how data analytics, big data science and machine learning tools are being introduced and used more and more in the industry to digitalize the way of working.”

Kukde said she wanted to learn about the information behind the buzzwords.

“We are witnessing a complete digital transformation in every industry, including Oil and Gas,” she said. “Industry 4.0 is the buzzword nowadays, and it is fascinating to see how the fourth industrial revolution is creating its permanent mark on Oil and Gas and changing the traditional working method in the industry.”

Another graduate student, Xueting Zhou, also praised the new perspective and information provided by the course content.

“I have never taken such a course that combines the theory and the industry so closely,” she said. “With staff from the industry giving interesting guest lectures, I have the chance to take a deeper look in the application of digitalization in the industry. Dr. Kondapi offered a broad view and conclusion of the influence of the new techniques in the traditional industry. His words offered clear insights of the trend going on in the Industry 4.0 era.”

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