Your article “Help Wanted? OSU Campus Develops Pipeline Integrity Degree, Industry Partnerships” was very interesting and timely. There is a great need for a college degree program focused on pipeline integrity, as you know. When I read the part “Even for an interested and informed newcomer, the path toward a stable career is unclear,” it struck a chord with me and hence, this email to you.
I entered the pipeline industry 50 years ago as a draftsman for Columbia Gas Transmission. My first seven years were split between drafting alignment sheets, main line block valves and pig launchers / receivers and helping with construction contract documents during the winters and overseeing construction as a field engineer during the summers. After 10 years, I had progressed as far as I could as a “non-engineer” and accepted a position with Gulf + Western as a Project Engineer. I soon learned that there were even more opportunities in Houston so applied for and was hired as a design coordinator with Fluor Corporation on the Saudi Arabia Gas Program. That led to field assignments as a Construction Engineer on major projects in Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Western Australia. When I returned to Houston in 1986, work was slow but I was asked to work on a pipeline integrity project for Texas Utilities (TXU), which led into a 10-year run of pipeline integrity assessment and management (PIAM) work for TXU, where I honed my skills in the art of this business. I am now a 74-year old Project Director working part-time, simply because there are not enough knowledgeable engineers and I enjoy the work.
So, pass this on to the candidates who are not completely sold on the career advancement possibilities. I think it will encourage them to pay attention and get excited about their future. It’s wide open!