With more than 40 years in the commercial offshore diving and ROV industry, Drew Michel is a natural choice for MATE Center’s National Visiting Committee (NVC). Michel is the owner and president of ROV Technologies, Inc., a company that provides ROV consulting services to the oil and gas industry and other companies that use ROVs. He has been involved with the Marine Technology Society (MTS) since 1968 and served as the first chairman of its ROV Committee from 1978 to 1981. He became chairman again in 1991 and has served in that role for nearly fifteen consecutive years.
Michel has been involved in various MATE Center activities for three years and has been a member of the NVC for a little more than a year. He feels his biggest contribution to the NVC is providing input from the commercial offshore exploration and production industry. His long association with the MTS and other academic groups helps him understand the differences between academia and industry, and he tries to leverage that experience to bridge the gap between the two circles. “In industry, it’s a very simple matter of providing a product or a service of equal or better value than your competitor at a lower cost,” says Michel. “In academia, you don’t need an instant result. There can be a totally different sense of urgency.”
"We need more than scientists. We need technicians with hands-on skills from welding to electronics"
Michel gives the Center high marks for its hands-on programs and internships, which he describes as critical building blocks of a student’s career path, and ultimately, to the success of the offshore and marine industry. “For example, I hate to see a kid go to college and get a degree in marine biology because it sounded like a neat way to make a living, only to find out that no one is hiring marine biologists,” he says. “We need to encourage programs like MATE that work with academia to understand the industry’s needs.”
According to Michel, understanding the employment needs of the offshore and marine industries is the biggest challenge faced by today’s educators and educational institutions. “We need more than scientists. We need technicians with hands-on skills from welding to electronics,” he continued. “Of all the programs that I’ve seen, MATE does that better than anyone else— especially with the ROV contests.” Given his work with ROVs, it’s only natural that Michel’s primary interest at the Center is its annual ROV competitions. Through the MTS ROV Committee, he sponsors the competitions. “The ROV contest is a tremendous program,” Michel says. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in almost 40 years in this business.”
In addition, Michel lectures at the annual MATE Summer Institutes on the history and use of ROVs. And the Center’s recently-published Knowledge and Skill Guidelines for ROV Technicians contains an article that Michel wrote on the history and future of ROVs. What’s the one thing that Michel values most about his relationship with the MATE Center? Helping young people achieve their goals. “That’s my purpose and my challenge in working with MATE—knowing that I’m helping the next generation,” he adds.
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