June 5, 2014
“It gets under your skin.“ Richard D’Souza admits. “I didn’t know what it was, but I learned American football at the zenith of the Bo and Woody rivalry. I was an athlete and loved any kind of sport. The first game against Northwestern was just so-so, but as the season got better and better and we played big rival teams, I really got into the game.”
From the Hash Bash to seeing students streak across campus, it was an eye-opening couple of years in Ann Arbor for Richard. He remembers, “I came to Ann Arbor from India - fresh off the boat as they say. I was adapting from a very different culture, and there was no better place to do it than the confines of the Michigan campus. The international community was smaller but the campus was very warm and inviting even then, making it a perfect place to make this transition. “I can’t believe it’s the 40th anniversary since I graduated in 1974. The time has flown by.”
After graduating as a naval architect, Richard had no idea he would end up in the deep South. “There weren’t many options as more traditional avenues for naval architecture due to the recession at that time. There were no jobs to be had and it was a difficult time seeing ship building moving overseas.” However, the offshore industry was undergoing a resurgence because of the spike of oil prices as a result of the 1973 oil embargo, galvanizing the offshore industry to drill deeper and decrease dependence on foreign oil. “They needed things that floated, skills that I had as a naval architect. I came down and interviewed in New Orleans and Houston. The food in New Orleans won out.”
Richard spent four years there learning the craft and trade. “I had wonderful mentors, and I really liked the business and had no desire to do anything else. Four years later, though, I realized all oil and gas roads lead to Houston.” He moved on and spent the next 26 years growing a small firm organically to a fairly significant size. “It allowed me to marry my skill as a naval architect with my colleagues’ skills as designers of production platforms, creating something really unique.” He has since made great strides in his field, revolutionizing the technology of his industry and building companies and departments along the way.
“We’ve been quite successful in building up a group there, which is never easy when there is so much competition for these resources. I attribute quite a bit of the success to my U-M connections - I have at least 12 Michigan grads on an 80 person team.”
Richard is returning this fall to Ann Arbor to celebrate his 40th reunion. He works closely with another U-M alum, Ray Fales, whose 40th undergraduate reunion is this year as well. “We’re coming back and going to the football game. I remember the fall colors were so amazing. I’ve never seen leaves turn so bright red as I did my first fall in Ann Arbor. Go Blue!”