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New degree to tackle oil and gas skills shortage

A new University of Aberdeen degree programme will aim to tackle the structural engineering skills gap within the oil and gas sector.

The University has introduced an MSc in oil and gas Structural Engineering, created through collaboration between the institution and leading Aberdeen based international oil and gas organisations Atkins, Production Services Network (PSN), and Wood Group Engineering (WGE).

Available as a three year part time degree, the programme's curriculum will be taught equally by University academics and high level industry figures from within the supporting organisations.

Combining theoretical understanding and practical expertise, the programme will boost fresh talent in an area which it is anticipated will be critically hit by the retirement of experienced engineers within the next decade.

Taught as a distance learning course using virtual learning technology, studies are undertaken entirely online with no requirement for students to attend classes on campus. 

The first intake of students will embark on the course in September.

Dr Paul Davidson from the University's School of Engineering said: "The MSc in Oil and Gas Structural Engineering has been created with the aim of generating a fresh pool of talented graduates with the skills and knowledge which meet both the current and future demands of this crucial sector. 

"By drawing expertise from both industry and academia, the course will equip the students with a strong set of industry relevant skills encompassing new technologies and developments within the sector.

"The skills gap which exists in the field of structural engineering is a global issue and in recognition of this the programme has been designed as a distance learning course where students are not required to attend classes on campus.  This opens up the course to prospective scholars from across the globe whilst also meeting the needs of students who wish to continue in full time employment, whilst undertaking their studies."

A Programme Advisory Board consisting of University representatives and key figures from the three supporting organisations has also been launched.  The board has planned the content of the degree, and will continue to monitor and guide its further development, ensuring its remains industrially relevant.

Dr Ramsay Fraser, Atkins director for Aberdeen said: "Atkins is hugely proud to be working with the University of Aberdeen to shape the course content and ensure it is relevant to industry. We are responsible for producing and delivering two modules every year, one on finite element methods and one on concept design of jackets and subsea structures.  The course will accelerate the students' own learning and training on offshore structures, but will also benefit their employers.  Ultimately however, the end benefit goes to the oil and gas industry as completing the course will ensure the high standards needed for our industry will be maintained."

Robert Bell, PSN's Chief Structural Engineer, said: "At PSN we actively look for better ways of doing things and this exciting new masters course fills a large gap in engineering training.  Before this course was invented, there was no relevant qualification for structural engineers interested in the oil and gas industry for brownfield engineering.  This course will equip new structural engineers with the skills to optimise the performance and extend the life of oil and gas assets around the world.  Its distance learning format will raise standards internationally, creating a new industry benchmark and new talent.  We look forward to welcoming the course's inaugural class."

Alan Fraser, Head of Engineering, Wood Group Engineering (North Sea), said: "Wood Group Engineering (North Sea) fully supports this joint academic and industry initiative which has been developed to meet the needs of our industry. This course delivers the correct balance of practical engineering solutions with engineering theory. Students who complete this course will have an excellent understanding of all aspects of Offshore Structural Engineering which will give them a strong foundation for their future career in the oil & gas industry."

For more information on the MSc in oil and gas Structural Engineering contact the Charlotte Molyneux at the College of Physical Sciences Graduate School on 01224 272515 or visit


Notes to Editors

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Monday 17th of August 2009

Ref: 232oildegree
Contact: Kelly Cromar

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