José Luis Pérez Meseguer
Project Coordinator
UTCAM
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View from the Top

University Creates Institutional Bridges

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:04

Q: How popular are your degrees related to oil and gas in comparison to other degree courses?

A: The demand for the courses has dropped as a result of PEMEX’s recent financial situation, since this had a resounding influence on the parastatal’s surrounding areas. The greater problem is felt by indirect workforce, such as the suppliers, as they have double the amount of workers as PEMEX. At the moment, we are in the process of selecting trustworthy suppliers, and we are sharing support, information, and expertise, almost like a small incubator of companies in order to improve the quality of services we provide. We are forming alliances through UTCAM USA, with universities and companies in Houston, Texas, to promote information exchanges and dialogues related to oil and gas. We are also preparing to create links with the new regulatory agencies such as CNH, the Ministry of Energy, and ASEA, and we expect that our relationship with CNH will begin in 2016. We will also submit proposals to the Ministry of Energy to clarify previously undefined regulations regarding environmental protection, and we hope they will take our recommendations on board.

Q: What strategic alliances are you forming in order to meet the expected growth of the oil and gas industry?

A: The first responsibility of our recently opened office in Houston is academic, and it will promote agreements with universities and companies for the benefit of our staff and students. Secondly, the office will serve a commercial function in trying to attract companies to Mexico by promoting the services offered by the university, and developing relationships to help improve our position in Mexico as an oil and gas company. There was also a Deep Offshore Technology International event in the US sponsored by PEMEX, and this provided us with an interesting opportunity to liaise with major players within the industry. We also participated in the event, and this was extremely valuable as it allowed us visibility on an international platform.

Q: How can the government adapt educational programs to the needs of the sector in the short term?

A: Our university is a technical university, which means that, like graduates from other technical universities,  the degree holds slightly less weight than a Bachelor’s degree from an academic university. There are certain universities that offer specific courses tailored to the oil and gas sector, such as the Universidad Olmeca that offers the Petroleum Engineering degree. We have several agreements with these universities as evidenced by our partnership with the Universidad Olmeca, and we are also about to sign a knowledge sharing agreement with the Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco (UJAT). As a mutually beneficial agreement, UJAT will then be able to take advantage of our facilities in Houston.

The budget cuts faced in the last few years have been extremely tough on the industry, but the government must realize that this eliminates the incentive for universities to create more human talent. There is a lack of jobs at the moment with PEMEX redundancies, and the foreign companies entering the market still have not begun operations. Unfortunately, this creates a situation where human talent is being lost since graduates are beginning to seek employment opportunities overseas. I believe that the government must help ensure that the same situation does not arise again. We are hopeful that by 2017, we will begin to see further economic growth, but in order to generate this growth, the government must invest in PEMEX and in the infrastructure of the country.

Q: How can the Ministry of Energy’s initiative of providing 60,000 grants stimulate the talent development for oil and gas, and how can UTCAM contribute to this scheme?

A: These types of funds help by supporting investigative development projects in oil and gas. There are several of these funds available, and CONACYT also offers grants for certain students so that they may study a specialization abroad after graduation. Currently, there is a concerted emphasis on the ability to speak English, and we have an agreement with some companies to provide English classes, as well as classes in topics such as investment in English at UTCAM. There are also certain funds available from the Chamber of Deputies that can contribute to projects, and we want to examine the ways in which UTCAM can capitalize on this money in order to improve our educational system.