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Early Success for Pipeline Safety Research With Universities

[+] Author Affiliations
James Merritt, Robert Smith

US DOT/PHMSA, Washington, DC

Paper No. IPC2016-64043, pp. V002T01A002; 5 pages
  • 2016 11th International Pipeline Conference
  • Volume 2: Pipeline Safety Management Systems; Project Management, Design, Construction and Environmental Issues; Strain Based Design; Risk and Reliability; Northern Offshore and Production Pipelines
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September 26–30, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Pipeline Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5026-6


In 2013, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) implemented a new cooperative agreement program entitled the Competitive Academic Agreement Program (CAAP). The CAAP initially was modeled after similar existing private and public sector based university programs where students themselves competed to participate in a limited number of publicized student intern programs. After just three years, CAAP is breathing further innovation into PHMSA’s pipeline safety research endeavors.

One difference between CAAP and the traditional university student research model is that the professors directing students under CAAP have control over the number and educational level of the students entering into the program. This promotes a “Team Approach,” which today’s pipeline industry sees as an added value when interviewing potential job applicants.

The CAAP is intended to spur innovation through enabling an academic research focus on high risk and high payoff solutions for wide ranging pipeline safety challenges. The CAAP is different in focus, execution and reporting than PHMSA’s core program on Pipeline Safety Research. It is intended to potentially deliver desired technical or scientific/quantitative solutions that can be “handed-off” for further investigations in future year CAAP applications or used in PHMSA’s core Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) program, which employs partnerships with a variety of public/private organizations.

Another goal for CAAP is to expose undergraduate, MS and PhD research students to subject matter related to their educational area of focus, while addressing pipeline safety challenges. This approach is illustrating how their engineering or technical discipline is highly desired and needed across the pipeline field. The pipeline industry and federal/state regulators are all experiencing low numbers of entry level applications to positions that are engineering or technically focused. Public conferences, meetings and journals have identified similar shortfalls.

This paper will describe the level of CAAP investment and focus areas to date; illustrate how efforts to expose student research to industry enhances employment opportunities; and comment on where promising innovations are coming from due to these research endeavors.

Topics: Safety , Pipelines



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