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Pumps & Pipes

A Uniquely Houston Collaboration

What happens when you connect brilliant minds from the medical, energy and aerospace industries? Innovation through collaboration – that’s what. And that’s exactly what an organization in Houston, a hub for these three industries, has set out to achieve.


During a chance encounter on a flight back to Houston, a cardiovascular surgeon and the passenger next to him, a drilling engineer, struck up a conversation about their respective professions, discussing a range of topics from blood vessels to extended-reach wells. As the exchange progressed, the heart doctor and engineer realized that underneath the specialized verbiage of each of their industries – whether drilling for oil or performing heart surgery – it’s all a matter of pumps and pipes.


After this revelation in 2007, a group of professionals in Houston from these three industries and academia came together to create the Pumps & Pipes association. As the association came together, our own VP of OFC RD&E, David Horsup, got involved as a member of the Pumps & Pipes Technical Advisory Board, which is chartered with helping to connect the dots between these three industries.


With its guiding problem-solving principle of exploring “the other guy’s toolkit,” Pumps & Pipes provides a platform to bring together professional groups who may not otherwise have the opportunity to interact. They also go beyond professional knowledge sharing and reach into the classroom to help strengthen the educational offerings in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).


Nalco Champion has been actively involved in Pumps & Pipes since the program’s inception, from showcasing new technology to working with Houston ISD (HISD) teachers around STEM education to presentations at the annual Pumps & Pipes Symposium from VP of OFC RD&E, David Horsup and Director OFC RD&E, Vic Keasler.


“In 2015, I actually had a few local teachers come to our Nalco Champion facility in Sugar Land to do a lab tour with me,” said Keasler. “They were working on how to incorporate the types of problems we solve into their curriculum.”


HISD featured the lab tour in a video about the Pumps & Pipes Mentor Program for educators.


At the December 2017 Pumps & Pipes Symposium, Keasler shared a presentation around the intersection of microbiology and the oilfield. 


“Microbiology plays a huge part in the medical world and in aerospace, but sometimes it gets forgotten in oil and gas,” said Keasler. “I actually came out of the medical world (I did my PhD on viruses and cancer at Baylor College of Medicine), so for me this presentation was more like an ‘it’s about time’ moment. There are so many potential places of overlap.” 


“In 2013, we did a project where we talked to a number of medical device start-up companies as we were looking for biofilm monitoring devices,” added Keasler. “We did not end up working with any of them, but it gave us great insight to progress to where we are today in our technology development.”


The possibilities for connection across industries truly are endless. To learn more about the Pumps & Pipes association and to view videos of past Symposium presentations, visit the Pumps & Pipes website.