Recruiters take to OTC exhibit floor to snag top-notch students

University students need internships when they’re still in school and jobs when they graduate. What better place to find opportunities in engineering and the sciences than at the Offshore Technology Conference?

Dagmar Beck, director of the professional science and engineering master’s degree program for Rice University, spent part of Monday working the giant floor of the convention hall. Many companies have recruiters at their booths and Beck said she made several connections with companies interested in hiring Rice students.

Beck said her next step is to invite the recruiters or other representatives to the Rice campus to give presentations about their businesses and the opportunities available. The master’s program combines technology and business studies.

Beck said her job has been easier this year because so many companies have recruiters on-site.

“They really want to talk to you,” said Beck, who collected a lot of business cards. In previous years — when the job market for oil and gas experts wasn’t so hot — recruiters weren’t on the exhibit floor.

Pal Arjunan, director of innovation and technology for Trelleborg Offshore, has immediate openings for interns. He stopped by the Rice University booth — in part because of the school’s reputation — to see if any students were still looking for summertime opportunities.

Beck pounced: “Bachelor’s or masters students?” She still has a handful of students she needs to place in internships.

Arjunan said it didn’t matter. Any mechanical and chemical engineering students.

“With a good GPA,” he added.

John March, director of operations at Rice’s Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology, also was recruiting. He is hoping to convince companies to fund some research at Rice in nano-technology and areas that will lead to innovations.

It’s a long-term conversation he hopes to start at the conference.

Companies will put millions of dollars into drilling, Marsh said. They understand the risk, and they can manage it. But they have a harder time evaluating the risk of financially supporting research that could be revolutionary — or not.

Big companies used to spend a lot on it, but now they depend on universities to do basic research and the government to fund it, March said. Some companies, though, have turned to universities for research that interests them and some of it is paying off.

Texas A&M representatives are at OTC promoting the university’s new National Corrosion Center.

“Corrosion is not one of those glamour topics,” said S. Ray Taylor, executive director of the center launched this year.

But it’s a big issue for companies concerned with the durability of products, so Texas A&M opted to put its new lab in Houston where it’s close to its prospective clients.

So far, two post-doctorate researchers and a research scientist are working at the center. It plans to add graduate and undergraduate students, especially those in materials science, chemical engineering and petroleum engineering.

Taylor said he has made some good contacts on the trade show floor that could lead to future business relationships — and more research opportunities for the new center.