Archived — Government, academia and business create opportunities for students, support Atlantic Canada’s offshore industry

Dr. Qiu in front of icebreaker models at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Students in the program use the icebreaker models to study ice-ship interactions.

Dr. Qiu in front of icebreaker models at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Students in the program use the icebreaker models to study ice-ship interactions.

At Memorial University, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program for Offshore Technology Research has been helping prepare skilled professionals for the Canadian labour force since 2010. The program creates internships for graduate students that cover all aspects of offshore activity, including scientific challenges in offshore design and operations, such as floating structures, mooring lines and risers; corrosion material engineering; and subsea systems. The students are paired up with researchers, national and international companies, government agencies and academia to carry out concentrated research and training in offshore technology.

"The idea of providing practical training to support the offshore industry came both from industry and academia," says Dr. Wei Qiu, an associate professor in Memorial University's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Qiu leads the team in providing this added training to highly qualified graduate students in engineering and science.

"It's a win-win-win situation, providing benefits to the university, the companies and the students."

Interns interact with academic and non-academic research environments, giving them practical teamwork experience; critical thinking, problem solving, writing, presentation and networking skills; mentoring; and career development. "We want to expose our students to both research and industry environments," says Dr. Qiu. The end result is highly skilled young professionals to help build Atlantic Canada's offshore industry.

Building Atlantic Canada's offshore industry

"The feedback received from industry partners has been excellent," says Dr. Qiu. "They really appreciate this program, especially now with the growth of the offshore industry. Most of those who have completed their internships are now working in the offshore field here in Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition to the graduates entering the workforce, we also have two Ph.D. graduates pursuing post-doctorate work to advance the field through research."

"It's a win-win-win situation," continues Dr. Qiu, "providing benefits to the university, the companies and the students. Our industry partners, companies such as Husky Energy, are experiencing a shortage of qualified employees. The Program for Offshore Technology Research at Memorial, which has expertise in offshore research and worldwide partnerships, provides the companies with the skilled people they need. The program enhances Memorial's reputation by expanding our research capability and our ability to attract students. And students benefit by acquiring practical experience with classroom training and laboratory research. It's a unique program."

Partners support recognized

The CREATE Program is funded until 2016 by NSERC, part of the Industry Canada Portfolio, with support from Petroleum Research Newfoundland & Labrador, the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador and Memorial University. Each partner in the program has contributed approximately $500,000 while NSERC has provided $1.65 million.

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"The support we receive from all our partners is very important," states Dr. Qiu. "This program focuses on our needs in the region, our students, our industry, our university, and I don't think it could have happened without this support."

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