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Johnny Hurtado with seven Great Lakes and Dredge Company male staff members.
Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, LLC generously established the Department of Ocean Engineering Laboratory for Dredging and Coastal Studies Renovation Fund. | Image: Courtesy of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, LLC.

What started as a small company outside of Chicago has transformed into a global industry leader dedicated to bolstering the education of future ocean engineers. By establishing the fund for Dredging and Coastal Studies, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, LLC (GLDD) will continue to revolutionize the education of Aggie engineers for years to come. This fund will be used for renovating and renaming the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Laboratory for Dredging and Coastal Studies in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M University. 

GLDD is the largest dredging company in the United States with a 132-year-old-history both domestically and internationally. First founded in 1890, GLDD started its legacy in Oak Brook, Illinois, working with the Chicago’s shore infrastructure and lock system. Since then, the company has expanded its reach globally, taking on dredging projects in Bahrain, Qatar and Brazil. 

In recent years, GLDD moved its headquarters to Houston to be closer to new markets and customers near the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River. Since moving to Houston, GLDD has been able to have a closer relationship with the Texas A&M Department of Ocean Engineering. 

“We have had a long-term relationship with Texas A&M, particularly with the ocean engineering department,” GLDD CEO Lasse Petterson said. “By establishing the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Laboratory for Dredging and Coastal Studies, we hope to grow the relationship for further research and introduction of the dredging and coastal industry to students.”

Originally from Norway, Petterson lived in Houston for over 20 years and has been involved with the oil and gas industry before joining GLDD in 2017. As a result, he has been able to see firsthand the type of students the ocean engineering department at Texas A&M produces.

“We hire a lot of Texas A&M engineers and are very familiar with the school,” Petterson said.  “When we moved our corporate headquarters to Houston from Illinois two years ago, we noted more active participation with Texas A&M as one of the benefits of being based in Houston.”

In addition to their gift, GLDD has also been deeply involved in the department’s industry advisory council, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s advisory board and the annual Dredging Short Course offered by Texas A&M Engineering, both as students and teachers. GLDD has shown its commitment, to not only the department, but to the students of ocean engineering as well. 

“We intend for our donation to be just part of the future relationship as we expect active engagement with researchers, students and professors at both ocean engineering campuses in College Station and Galveston, and the Maritime Academy in Galveston,” Petterson said. 

GLDD also values Texas A&M’s role in helping them stay competitive in an ever-growing market. They are among the first companies to make major investments in the United States offshore wind market. The relationship between GLDD and the Department of Ocean Engineering will not only help them grow in global markets, but bolster the education of all Aggie ocean engineers.

“The ocean engineering department is very pleased to partner with Great Lakes in seeking novel solutions for a variety of coastal issues including dredging, offshore wind and marshland/wetland resiliency,” said Dr. Sharath Girimaji, ocean engineering department head. “Together Great Lakes and Texas A&M can elevate the ocean and coastal engineering professions to new heights.”

How to give

Endowments supporting students in the Texas A&M University College of Engineering have an immeasurable impact on their education. If you are interested in supporting the College of Engineering and its departments, or would like more information on how you can give, please contact Meredith Brown, director of development at