Piper Alpha Memorial Scholarship

Piper Alpha Memorial Scholarship

The Piper Alpha Memorial Safety Scholarship was created by OPITO to provide a legacy for the victims of the Piper Alpha disaster. The scholarship provides opportunity for students to study our safety programmes to ensure those who will next be responsible for taking the industry forward are fully aware of the need for the highest levels of safety. 
The programmes which are on offer for the scholarship, which include:

You can find out more about the scholarship opportunity here.

Some of our previous scholars.

Esme Fowler - Safety & Reliability Engineer in the Rail Industry

Why did you choose the
University of Aberdeen and the MSc programme you studied? 

I initially knew that I wanted to complete
my MSc at the University of Aberdeen because it has an excellent reputation and as I'm from Aberdeen originally, it allowed me to remain close to home. My undergraduate degree is in Civil Engineering and during my final year of that I became interested in subjects related to risk analysis; this is why
I started to look into safety and reliability engineering degrees. The University of Aberdeen has two safety and reliability engineering MSc’s, and I chose the one related to the oil and gas industry because
I felt it made sense to make use of the strong ties with the industry the University has, given its location. 

How did the OPITO Piper Alpha Memorial Scholarship benefit you? 

The OPITO Piper Alpha Scholarship benefitted me in a multitude of ways throughout my degree. For me, it was mainly motivation to excel and work diligently in all my subjects given the reminder it presented of how important Safety and Reliability is within all high hazard industries. My favourite opportunity I was able to take part in through the Scholarship, was being able to attend the ‘Safety 30 Conference’ which commemorated the Piper Alpha accident, 30 years on from its occurrence. The conference was held over two days, where I was able to listen to presentations from Industry professionals on the subject of Safety Engineering and even listen to the experience of a survivor of the accident. Participating in the Scholarship was particularly significant for me, as my Dad worked on Piper Alpha ten days prior to the 6th July 1988. 

What are you doing now and how did you get there and how did your Masters contribute to your career path?

After completing the MSc I went on to a complete a two-year Graduate scheme with Bombardier Transportation. I have since finished the scheme and I am now working as a Safety & Reliability Engineer within the Rail Industry. My Master’s has directly contributed to the work I now do, since it provided me with the foundational knowledge needed for the role. For example, much of my day-to-day work involves working with Qualitative risk analysis, something which I was introduced to as part of the course content.

Is there any advice you would give to current or future OPITO scholars?

I would advise scholars to be inquisitive and accept all opportunities that the scholarship provides you with, whether this be meeting and networking with new people, or attending events related to the industry. I have found much of the course content directly relevant to what I do now, that I would also say, be a sponge and absorb as much information as possible! Finally, I would highly recommend reading ‘Fire in the Night’ by Stephen McGinty. It is very hard to comprehend what is was like for those on board Piper Alpha at the time of the accident, but this provides not only a detailed overview of technical cause of the accident but describes the effects it on those directly and in-directly involved. It is a vivid reminder of how important safety is, and unfortunately, how this is sometimes only recognised when things go wrong. Therefore, I think it would be an introduction into the background of the accident and the cause behind the Scholarship. 

Abayomi Obisesan - Senior SAP & Asset Reliability Engineer, Optimal Asset Maintenance Solutions

Why did you choose the University of Aberdeen and the MSc programme you studied?

My passion for the methods of assessing Reliability was born during a Reliability course while I was studying for my 1st degree (Electrical and Electronics Engineering). Since then, I planned to extend my knowledge in Reliability. The MSc programme, Safety and Reliability Engineering at the University of Aberdeen caught my attention during my search for a good university that offer Reliability courses in the world. Selecting University of Aberdeen is an excellent choice for me because it gave me the required foundation to build my career in Asset management.

How did the OPITO Piper Alpha Memorial Scholarship benefit you?

The Scholarship supported me throughout my MSc programme in Aberdeen. I was able to focus on the course deliverables and my study without worrying much about maintenance costs. The scholarship also provided the right network that has been supporting my career growth.

What are you doing now and how did you get there and how did your Masters contribute to your career path?

I am currently working at Optimal Asset Maintenance Solutions in the role of a Senior SAP & Asset Reliability Engineer. My MSc programme laid the foundation to get to this position. My day-to-day activities involve the use of reliability techniques and the application of various risk analyses to eventually recommend maintenance strategies for critical assets. I learnt these methods during my MSc programme.

Is there any advice you would give to current or future OPITO scholars?

Congratulations on your selection as an OPITO scholar. The support from the OPITO Scholarship is beyond the study of the MSc programme. You will get the right support from the university and will be introduced to networks that will continue to support you in your career path. I wish you the best in your Good luck with your studies.

David Gilbert - Independent Consultant

Why did you choose the University of Aberdeen and the MSc you studied?

I chose the Safety and Reliability Engineering degree (graduated in 2016) because I wanted to learn more about the safety engineering.
I have always had an interest in safety from when I was a teenager, the idea that I could help to save lives in a high risk sector appealed to me.  Before starting the degree, a project that I worked on had an incident
that resulted in a 17-18 year old boy being crushed between a gantry crane and a concrete pillar.  At the time I was not involved in the specific operation, but
being part of the project team I realised
that I could maybe have done more to prevent this tragic loss. After doing some self-reflection, I realised that I did not have the skills needed to help the people around me become aware of the hazards that they were working with and that I did not have the skills needed to convey the hazards that I could see.  So I recognised that I needed to re-train and join a course that would help me learn the skills that could help me prevent anyone else from losing their lives.  I had heard good things about from my peers, and the Safety and Reliability degree came recommended.  

How did the OPITO Piper Alpha Memorial Scholarship benefit you?

The scholarship provided financial funding which meant that I did not need to work while studying and that I could focus fully on the degree teachings.  This gave me the confidence to commit fully to the degree without having to worry (as much) about the financial burden.  I believe that the scholarship has also helped me since my graduation because OPITO is recognised internationally as an organisation that drives safety and competency.  So this alignment with my own ambitions to help prevent future loss of life got me interested in OPITO and the research and training that support.  

What are you doing now and how did you get there and how did your Masters contribute to your career path?

The MSC is a recognised qualification that enabled me to work in safety and integrity engineering. Having completed the degree, I worked on improving my confidence with helping people step back and evaluate the hazards that they work with. I now work as an independent consultant that supports operators with modifications and operational hazards. Currently I am working on a series of modifications for Total E&P UK to make sure that the physical modifications are both installed and operated safely.  

Is there any advice you would give to current or future OPITO scholars?

You have to be yourself and work to your own strengths.  I find that being able to incite honesty in the people around me allows the team that I am working with to better evaluate the hazards and risks that they are working with.   Asking not just questions, but the right question at the right time has helped me to support teams in reaching the right decision from the right perspective.  I have made decision which at times have been difficult, but it’s a lot easier to say for example I have shutdown down 5% of the gas supply to the UK, rather than I allowed a job to go ahead that hurt somebody.  

Hamish Turnbull - Risk Consultant / Technical Safety Engineer, Marex Marine and Risk


Why did you choose the University of Aberdeen and the MSc programm you studied?

My interests into safety as a career path were initially sparked during my undergraduate studies at Heriot-Watt University, and so I began looking for appropriate Master’s Degrees that best aligned my interests and engineering background. I found that the University of Aberdeen was a worldwide leading university for offshore engineering, and had excellent ties and reputation within the oil, gas and energy industry. Both the MSc programmes and academic lecturing staff were highly praised and respected from industry and former students. 
I chose the MSc in Safety and Reliability Engineering for Oil and Gas and was proudly part of the 2018/19 cohort of students, fully embracing the learning experience that was offered which saw me additionally taking on the role as class representative. I chose this course because it best suited my career goals and aspirations in both applying safety engineering principles to an offshore setting, however the course content ensures that the knowledge gained can also be applied in other industries. The degree holds accreditation from a variety of professional institutions, and so the course programme would also fulfil my ultimate goal of working towards and obtaining, professional chartership. 

How did the OPITO Piper Alpha Memorial Scholarship benefit you?

I had the great honour and benefit of being a recipient of the OPITO Piper Alpha Memorial Scholarship which really helped in ensuring external pressures and distractions were removed from my learning experience. Instead, my uninterrupted attention could remain on my studies, attending industry lectures or being involved in networking events. The financial assistance ensured that rather than finding part-time work, I was able to attend many of the industry events put on by the university thanks to their close industry connections. This was really beneficial in giving me a head start on obtaining relevant CPD and for meeting other like-minded professionals in the industry. The scholarship provided me with contacts within OPITO, which I was able to make use of, catchup with and expand on at Offshore Europe 2019. Having a globally recognised industry body to add to my CV further ensured that my graduate job applications really stood out from the crowd and the scholarship was a brilliant talking-point in interviews that gave me the opportunity to really sell myself. 

What am I doing now and how did I get there and how did your MSc contribute to my career path?

Within my current role I operate as a Risk Consultant / Technical Safety Engineer with Marex Marine and Risk, a global marine, oil & gas and offshore energy risk consultancy, based in Aberdeen and was coincidentally formed as a result of the Cullen Enquiry and the challenges faced by the industry. After receiving a number of graduate opportunities elsewhere in the UK, I chose to remain in Scotland, and particularly in Aberdeen as it is well recognised as the energy capital of Europe. Marex provided me with an excellent opportunity and job offer package, and I have happily continued to build upon my experiences here since graduation. The MSc programme equips students really well with the skills and knowledge that are used in industry, and from day one I was able to hit the ground running and utilise my new knowledge. The course content of the programme taught me many concepts that I was able to directly use in my role, and the guest lectures from industry professionals were really helpful in getting an insight into what sort of activities and work I could be involved in. And again, the networking connections from the guest lectures were great opportunities to build relationships within the industry.

Is there any advice you would give to current or future OPITO scholars?

My advice to both current and future OPITO scholars is to make the most of the networking opportunities that it affords you. The industry may seem expansive and daunting at first, but really once you graduate and enter the industry to work, you realise how close-knit and small it can be. It feels like everyone knows everyone else, and so if you have already made a start on networking then you’ll be in a great position for being introduced to others and you never know what sort of exciting opportunities that can bring your way. 


Fanni Fogarassy - HSE Manager, Procter & Gamble

It was a great relief that I received this scholarship because it covered all my expenses from accommodation to groceries. I could focus on my studies and the university experience, as well as go and discover Scotland with my friends who I got to know through my degree course. The scholarship helped me especially after the pandemic situation started and I couldn’t really go anywhere and needed to wait months before I could move back to my home country while working on my dissertation.

I started looking for job opportunities that were safety related last Spring and after several interviews I landed a job with Procter & Gamble. In August, I moved back to my home country and started working as an HS&E Manager with a prospective of becoming a Technical Safety Leader after internal training. I am currently responsible for our process safety systems. The site is specialized in consumer electronics. My degree in Safety contributed greatly to getting this position and helped me passing internal trainings in process safety easily. The mindset I acquired during my stay in Scotland facilitated the first few months and now, after 7 months with the company, I am confident in my position. I’m hoping to stay in safety for a while.

My advice for the present and future scholars:

Make the most of your stay! Concentrate on absorbing all the knowledge and experience you can get while staying in Aberdeen! Enjoy this adventure, this opportunity because it is a once in a lifetime experience and will stay with you for a long time!

I would like to thank OPITO again for providing me this opportunity! It truly made my stay at UoA the best!