Year of Graduation: 1974
Major(s): Natural Science
Current Position: Founder & Vice President of Operations, Refinery Water Engineering and Associates, Inc. (RWE)
Please give a brief description of your current position and where you're working.
I am the Founder and Vice President of Operations for Refinery Water Engineering and Associates, Inc. (RWE). We are a California corporation with our main Field Operations office in Texas. Our firm provides Environmental Engineering solutions to the Oil Refining & Petrochemical Manufacturing industries.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
While at school at CSB/SJU, I majored in Natural Science. While there, I had an interest in medical school along with veterinarian school. After maturing, I went back to school to get Chemistry & Environmental Engineering degrees, as well as a Masters in Marketing. Following this, I spent 33 years in Environmental Engineering specific to Water & Waste Management, working for many corporations on the way. In 2001, I started an independent consultant business, which in 2009 was expanded into a corporation where I currently have 22 employees.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
The word "environmental" speaks for itself with respect to the protection of the earth's resources. Oil and water will have no choice but to mix in order to meet the challenges of the future. Water is a commodity that will be traded someday based on specifications, such as various industrial qualities, drinking quality, etc., similar to the trading of soy beans, pork bellies, etc. RWE recently hired a new company President, my former St. John's college roommate who was formerly a division president for McGraw-Hill.
What skills are important in your field?
Mathematics. If I could go back and do it again I would definitely take more advantage of math classes. Chemical engineering is something that needs considerably strong math abilities. With these two disciplines, all of the other engineering disciplines can be captured quite easily.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
The sciences that I learned at CSB/SJU were extremely helpful. They were very solid and enabled me to survive in the corporate training at the start of my career. I had a strong Chemistry and Biology background because of the quality instructors. In particular, Father Bertam Niggeman and Dr. Robert Fulton were extremely helpful in building my foundation. My first employer, Nalco Chemical Co., is well known for a "boot camp" type introduction to the corporate working world. The CSB/SJU professors were solely responsible for my survival of that experience.
What is the most satisfying rewarding part of your job?
The most satisfying part would have to be when I work with an oil refinery and can help them engineer a solution to better the environment, and then actually see the effect in the environment. It is very rewarding to know that I, along with other professionals, contributed to giving back to the earth in exchange for what we have taken.