"In my second year as a Graduate Engineer based in the Melbourne office, I was lucky enough to be sent to Houston for three months to experience the Houston office.

The Houston office was an extremely positive experience. The whole team there were incredibly welcoming and friendly, and were nice enough to offer me many, many rides to help me get around.

I arrived in Houston in the middle of August, 2018. Apparently I had missed the very worst of the summer heat; if this is true, I am extremely grateful! The heat and humidity (coming from winter in Melbourne) was difficult to adjust to, and for the first couple of weeks, I effectively jumped from one air conditioned space to the next.

I believe working in Houston was an important experience for my career at AMOG. The Houston office is somewhat of a paradox – it is located in the centre of the oil and gas industry, though I spent the bulk of my time in Houston working on a Melbourne based job. This was a great lesson in communication; the importance of clear and complete handover instructions, as well as data management to ensure the whole project team had any and all required information for the next day(s).

It was also exciting for me to have some exposure to Houston based offshore projects. I was exposed to a mooring/riser verification study for an FSO, which was very interesting. This project was due to the client assessing increased vessel offsets as the mooring system degraded with age. In turn, we were assessing how the vessel offsets would affect the riser and mooring system. Indeed; for the most extreme offsets, in damaged mooring simulations, there was evidence of mooring lines clashing with the Mid-Water Arch, and the riser – highlighting the importance of analysis like these. Another advantage of the small office was the exposure to the different projects that different people in the office were working on, and the learning opportunities available by just asking about the projects. 

It was immediately obvious just how dominant Oil and Gas is in Houston – nearly everyone I spoke to seemed to be connected to the industry, usually to the offshore industry. Coupled with regular lunch-time presentations on the industry by societies like SNAME and MTS, I was constantly learning more about the offshore O&G industry, and the challenges and opportunities people are looking towards in the future.

I was also able to take trips to New Orleans and Dallas during my time in Houston. Houston itself has some great attractions; my absolute favourite was the NASA space centre and Saturn V rocket. It’s amazing the achievements they made in the 60s and 70s. The audacity to fill a silo full of rocket fuel and light it, then get it to the moon (and back) is awesome. Galveston was another highlight. It was my first chance to see an offshore platform; the Seastar museum is located there, as are multiple offshore platforms and ships that are currently out of service.

All in all, I come away from my Houston trip with a greater understanding of the challenges and advantages the staff in the Houston office work with, greater understanding the offshore O&G industry, and increased technical knowledge of riser and mooring systems. I loved my exposure to Marine and Offshore Engineering, and look forward to learning more in the future."

Alex graduated from Monash University in 2017 with a Masters of Advanced Engineering (Mechanical), after completing his Bachelor of Ocean Engineeirng (Honours) at the Australian Maritime College. He is currently a Senior Engineer in AMOG's Melbourne office.