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July 2012:

Oceaneering Takes Technology for a Wild Ride

By Susan Kim,

July 2, 2012

Posted in: BWCC

Oceaneering International Inc. is a global oilfield provider of engineered services and products, primarily to the offshore oil and gas industry, with a focus on deepwater applications. Oceaneering also serves the defense, aerospace and themed entertainment industries. Its Advanced Technologies office is located in Hanover.

But thanks to some serious technology expertise from Oceaneering, amusement park visitors worldwide are now having the time of their lives.

Many indoor thrill rides begin the same way: with passengers sitting or standing in a ride vehicle. While the vehicle travels on a track, a simulated world appears around them, transporting them into outer space, through ice caves or maybe a haunted gothic castle.

The technology behind many of these ride vehicle systems belongs to Oceaneering. “We’re building these rides all over the world,” said Jay Donnelly, vice president for program development at Oceaneering’s Hanover office.

Oceaneering’s electrical and mechanical actuators are in action at the Shuttle Launch Experience at the Johnson Space Center in Florida. “Once riders are buckled in, they actually feel the simulated effects of a shuttle launch and a flight unlike any other,” said Donnelly.

The next innovation in amusement park rides is trackless vehicles, operated with magnets that are arranged in a grid pattern hidden in the floor. As the vehicle moves, it registers on the magnets, sending a signal back to the ride control system and ensuring there are no collisions.

“This technology has the potential to offer riders a different ride experience each time,” said Donnelly.

Innovation, Not Invention

Oceaneering’s employees have a saying about their work: “We don’t invent –we innovate.”

The company’s engineers spend their time identifying proven capabilities and then applying them in different, innovative ways to solve a problem.

While Oceaneering may be globally known for offshore oil and gas support technology, many of its engineers are working with other ways to use remotely-operated vehicles.

“We take those vehicles and modify them for other customers who might want to search the ocean bottom or recover objects on the ocean bottom,” explained Donnelly.

Oceaneering is not a think-tank full of Ph.D.s who are researching and developing, he added. “Our talented engineers innovate a practical application of someone else’s invention.”

This practical thinking is turning a profit: Oceaneering reported record first quarter earnings for 2012. On revenue of $594.9 million, Oceaneering generated a net income of $51.5 million in that period.

Open Doors, Open Minds

Shannon Biggs, business development and marketing assistant, has been with Oceaneering for five weeks. The company’s culture, she said, fosters creativity and enthusiasm amongst employees.

“It is a team-oriented environment with an open door policy,” she said. “People are very supportive and encouraging, which helps generate new ideas and approaches.”

The company’s innovative spirit has fueled its growth. One of Oceaneering’s most recent contracts is from Petroleo Brasileiro S.A., Petrobas, to supply 125 miles of thermoplastic production control umbilicals for field development projects in the Santos Basin in offshore Brazil.

The $120 million contract is the largest umbilical order in Oceaneering’s history. The umbilicals are for the Lula and Sapinhoa field developments, and product manufacturing is scheduled to take place in Oceaneering’s plant in Niteroi, Brazil.

Oceaneering’s expertise in deepwater applications has landed clients within the defense and aerospace industries in addition to oilfields.

Part of the Community

Oceaneering has been a member of the BWCC for a year. “We thought we’d give the BWCC a test ride and see what it’s all about,” said Donnelly, adding that he considers joining BWCC a way of getting to know businesspeople and learn about resources.

“We’re good members of the local community,” he said.

Oceaneering recently participated in the second USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. The festival featured an expo at the Washington Convention Center, with more than 3,000 fun, interactive exhibits.

“We think it’s important to develop an enthusiasm for science, technology, math and engineering,” he said. “Right now our nation particularly needs a solid knowledge base in engineering and technology to foster innovation.”

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