KAUST launches Fugro Center of Excellence for Marine Technology

Dr. Justin Mynar (seated left) and Mr. Mark Heine are joined by Mike Dravitzki (standing left) of Fugro and Lloyd Smith of the KAUST Core Labs to open the new Center of Excellence in Marine Technology on KAUST campus. Photo by Lilit Hovhannisyan.

On April 15, KAUST signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Fugro N.V., inaugurating the KAUST – Fugro Center of Excellence (CoE) for Marine Technology. The signing, which took place on campus, marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial partnership between the two organizations.

Fugro is the world's leading independent supplier of geo-intelligence. In accordance with their mission to contribute to a safe and livable world, they provide the subsea environmental data acquisition critical to sustaining the development of natural resources.

To date, large tracts of the Red Sea remain unexplored due to extreme depths, temperature and salinity. Extreme environments require cutting-edge technologies and trained professionals. Situated on the shore of the Red Sea, KAUST is in a prime position to address such challenges.

"This close working relationship with Fugro will greatly increase KAUST's capabilities in marine research, enabling access to the extreme environments of the Red Sea and advancing the development of subsea research technologies. The Red Sea is of great importance to Saudi Arabia's economy, and we need to further our understanding of its resource-rich environment for the benefit of the Kingdom," explained Jean M.J. Fréchet, KAUST senior vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development.

Associate Vice President for Research and Executive Director of the KAUST Core LabsDr. Justin Mynar (left) and Director of the Marine Division at Furgo Mr. Mark Heine unveil the new Center of Excellence in Marine Technology on KAUST campus. Photo by Lilit Hovhannisyan.

Fugro, as a leading remotely operated vehicles (ROV) developer, will provide access to its most advanced technologies, allowing the collection of data and samples from previously inaccessible sites. It will also establish an ROV Training Academy (ROVTA) at the KAUST Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab. This ROVTA, the only such facility in the Kingdom, will train Saudi students to become ROV pilots and engineers for work in both industry and research.

"Fugro is pleased to form this innovative partnership with KAUST, building on our past 40 years of operations in Saudi Arabia. Our hydrographic survey teams have conducted extensive seabed mapping programs in the Red Sea over the last decade and we look forward to training and developing more Saudi students, enabling them to enter this exciting field of discovery," added Mark Heine, director of Fugro's Marine Division.

The KAUST - Fugro CoE will not only benefit the KAUST academic community, but it will also support the University's industrial partners. This alliance will place Saudi Arabia at the forefront of international scientific advancements in marine technology.

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