News Release

REF NO.: 72

SUBJECT: Two subsea engineering chairs appointed at Memorial University

DATE: March 16, 2017

Memorial University’s research capacity and partnerships with the offshore oil industry is expanding through the appointment of two new subsea engineering research chairs.

Dr. Octavia Dobre, an electrical engineering professor, in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, has been appointed as the Research Chair in Subsea Communications. Dr. Bipul Hawlader, a civil engineering professor in the faculty, has been appointed as the Research Chair in Seafloor Mechanics.

The research chairs will expand research and educational initiatives as well as graduate student supervision in subsea engineering as part of an ongoing Memorial/Statoil partnership.

Drs. Dobre and Hawlader bring valuable expertise in strategic areas that are critical to expanding Memorial’s ongoing partnership with Statoil. Memorial is contributing $1 million over five years towards this partnership and the chair programs.

As the new Research Chair in Subsea Communications, Dr. Dobre will focus on underwater communications with applications to the oil and gas industry provincially, regionally and nationally.

“Strengthening research in underwater communications, as well as our partnerships with industry, will contribute to the transfer of knowledge and training of highly qualified personnel in this strategic area for the province,” she said. “Given the geographical location of Memorial, undertaking and focusing on research in underwater communications is natural. This chair position will expand Memorial’s research in the area of information technology, especially in underwater communications.”

As the new Research Chair in Seafloor Mechanics, Dr. Hawlader will develop a research team and program to investigate both geotechnical and structural issues of subsea infrastructure.

“Offshore oil and gas development has increased significantly, not only in shallow water, but also in deep water in the range of water depths between 500 metres and two kilometres or more,” he said. “Proper understanding of seabed sediment is central to the safe and economic design of subsea infrastructure. Using our well-equipped geotechnical laboratory, the world-class centrifuge facility at C-CORE and advanced numerical simulations tools, this chair position will provide innovative new solutions to challenges related to seafloor stability and design of offshore foundations, anchors, pipelines and risers.”

Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore, Memorial University, says the new chairs significantly strengthen the university’s oil and gas research capacity, which will be bolstered through international industry and academic collaborations.

“Dr. Dobre’s work in underwater communications and Dr. Hawlader’s work in seafloor mechanics will further enhance Memorial’s reputation for developing innovative solutions for subsea operations in harsh offshore environments,” said Dr. Gosine.

“These new chairs will also provide valuable research opportunities for Memorial’s graduate students who will undertake industry-relevant research. I thank Statoil for its ongoing partnership with Memorial and for continuing to invest in Memorial’s diverse research activities.”

Drs. Dobre and Hawlader are looking forward to becoming an integral part of the growing cluster of excellence in subsea engineering research and education at Memorial.

“It is an honour and a privilege to hold this research chair position at Memorial University,” said Dr. Dobre. “It is also a great opportunity to join the other research chairs in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, whose activities are also related to the offshore oil industry. The collaboration with other research teams and with industry partners will provide a multidisciplinary environment that stimulates creative research and exceptional student training opportunities, as well as advancing our research capacity in an important area for the province and offshore industry.”

“I feel so grateful to have a chair position directly in the areas of my research interests and experience,” said Dr. Hawlader. “It will strengthen Memorial’s research programs on seabed sediment behaviour and buried infrastructure while attracting high-quality graduate students, industry partners and collaborators from around the world.”

“The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is pleased to welcome these new chairs in subsea engineering,” said Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University. “Drs. Dobre and Hawlader bring valuable expertise to the positions which are critical to fulfilling the mandate of the chairs, industry partners and our faculty’s growth plan.”

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