After serving 6 years in the United States Navy, Paul Walters enrolled at the University of Houston and studied electrical engineering. He currently is employed by the American Bureau of Shipping as manager of integrated software quality management within the chief engineer’s office.

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

What is your educational background?

“I studied electrical engineering at the University of Houston and graduated in 1986. The University of Houston is known in the Greater Houston Area as a ‘commuter school’. So, I lived at home in Spring Branch and drove to classes during that period. Beyond the physics and calculus, I had to study quite a lot of programming languages: machine language, Fortran, Microsoft Basic, and ladder logic. Sometime around 1984 or 1985, I even built my own computer from scratch using a Heathkit. But, of all the things I studied at the University of Houston, I most enjoyed control theory.”

What is your current occupation?

“I am currently manager of integrated software quality management with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Houston, Texas; and I work in the areas of offshore and marine assets. I am the principle author of the Integrated Software Quality Management Guide published by ABS. The objective of the guide is to set forth a systematic quality software development process for seamless software integration and detecting programming errors (bugs) ahead of time. Today, complex software systems are on board every drilling and production unit. For a drill-ship out in the ocean, there are many different types of software systems from multiple vendors that are controlling the ship and drilling operations. To maintain position of the drill ship over a well-site, the dynamic positioning (DP) system responds to the wind and current changes providing thrust to maintain position. All of these software systems must work together to keep the ship steady and directly over the well-site. Our guide provides a systematic method for conceptual planning, risk reduction, verification, and bug detection through software testing. The goal of the guide is to enhance safety and environmental protection and help owners to mitigate project risk.”

How does your education help you in your job?

“What I really liked about college was studying control systems and all the programming languages. Since my main job function is software quality and software integration, particularly with respect to control systems, my studies are a good fit for my present job tasks. Dynamic positioning is all about control, and my experience in programmable logic controllers, supervisory control and data acquisition systems, and distributed control systems – along with my programming skills learned in college – all have helped me immensely. College, however, offers one great thing to everyone who attends and that is what I call ‘non-linear’ thinking – otherwise known as ‘thinking outside the box.’ Solving today’s problems requires new and bold thinking.”

Richard Carranza is a reporter from the Houston, Texas area and published his first work in 1990. His education includes a bachelor of arts in chemistry from Cornell College, master of science in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University, and a masters of business administration from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. In addition to writing, Richard is involved in the design of petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, oil/gas facilities and ethanol plants. He also carries out writing assignments for publications like Chemical Processing Magazine, Maritime Executive Magazine and Chemical Online.