It’s a small world after all

April 30, 2018
In November 2012, Hamed Mansoori, a corrosion engineer from National Iranian Oil Co.’s (NIOC) South Zagros Oil & Gas Production Co., submitted a pair of technical articles to Oil & Gas Journal’s former Exploration Editor Alan Petzet for review. All OGJ editors get papers from every conceivable direction, often on topics not our own, and Alan in turn forwarded them to me.

In November 2012, Hamed Mansoori, a corrosion engineer from National Iranian Oil Co.’s (NIOC) South Zagros Oil & Gas Production Co., submitted a pair of technical articles to Oil & Gas Journal’s former Exploration Editor Alan Petzet for review. All OGJ editors get papers from every conceivable direction, often on topics not our own, and Alan in turn forwarded them to me.

I accepted a paper on pitting corrosion failures in natural gas transmission pipelines. Future submissions followed, some more suited to the processing section of OGJ, others about pipelines but not necessarily a fit for the Journal.

During necessary correspondence commonalities began to emerge between us. We both valued the opinion of our wives. We both had a deep interest in broad-ranging foreign and domestic policy issues, despite our respective professional focuses. Hamed noted that things in Iran seemed great following the June 14, 2013, election of Hassan Rouhani as the country’s new president, the bulk of the population being swept up in optimism that the new leader would somehow solve their problems.

The big step

Hamed was a successful 10-year professional with NIOC. But he wanted more, and as so many from all points on the globe before him, felt that the US would be a good place to find it.

He wrote in November 2013 letting me know that he wanted to pursue his PhD in corrosion engineering at an American university and asking if I could recommend any. I couldn’t, but he remained undaunted, and targeted Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. In February 2014 he asked me to please forward copies of the magazines containing his work to Dr. Bruce Brown at the school’s Institute for Corrosion and Multiphase Technology.

The university gave him a grant to pursue his PhD but his deciding to do so was not easy. He worried about potentially needing to stay in the US after receiving his degree, and whether he could find a job. He wondered aloud if perhaps he should have simply traded on his professional experience and made the jump overseas that way instead. In the end, however, he took the plunge. Come September he was still waiting for his student visa. The visa was granted in November and Hamed, his wife, and their young child moved in late December.

The transition was hard. His wife was homesick. Hamed, who had started with NIOC at 21 years old and was now 32, found it more difficult than he had imagined trading professional employment for a return to school. The 21° F. Ohio January weather didn’t help.

Fast forward

We both got busy with life. Occasional games of phone tag would end uncompleted.

Then, earlier this month at the National Association of Corrosion Engineers conference in Phoenix, while thumbing through the program waiting for a meeting, I saw him listed as a presenter the next day.

E-mails bounced back. Phone numbers had changed. If worse came to worst I was going to surprise him at this presentation, but I wanted to try to make a plan. Then it occurred to me, though I hadn’t seen him there in years, Hamed had at one time had a Facebook account.

We established contact. I met him by his student poster. The Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team was in town and I asked if he wanted to check it out. He did. We walked to the Airbnb house he and some fellow Ohio U. students had rented so he could drop off his things, conversation flowing freely. After a brief visit we made our way back downtown to the stadium. Turns out it was Hamed’s first baseball game and between bites of taco and swigs of Pacifico he asked the questions needed to figure the game out.

Morals of this story? The world is a great place. Students (of all ages and nationalities) are the future. And baseball’s the perfect medium for catching up with a new old friend.