Interview with Process Department Director, Tom Wooley
Name: Tom Wooley
Current employer: Fluor Corporation
Job title: Process Department Director
Science Career: Chemical Engineer
Time working in this field: 41 years
How would you describe what you do in your job to a student?
After I completed my college degree in Chemical Engineering, I joined Fluor to become a Process Engineer. I perform many different calculations that help define the overall equipment required for the plant that we will build. I then work with engineers such as mechanical, electrical, and civil engineers to complete the design of chemical plants, refineries, and power plants all over the world.
How did you become interested in this area of science/engineering?
Even in middle school, I realized that I was better at math and science than other subjects, so it was only natural for me to become an engineer.
What are some of the key characteristics that are important for a person to succeed in this type of work?
To be successful you need to be organized and always achieve a good understanding of what you are learning now because you need a good foundation to better understand new ideas.
Describe a project that you have worked on that was of particular interest to you.
Presently, I am working on a project that will convert a by-product from a refinery, like charcoal, into methanol, which is one of the primary chemicals used to make many useful, everyday products. It is interesting how we can convert a raw material such as charcoal, which has little value, into a product such as methanol, which has significant value.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It is fun to work with other people as a team to develop technical information needed to turns ideas into real projects.
Is there any advice you would give to someone interested in this field that you wish someone had given you when you were starting out?
You must focus on math and science, but you can't forget about English, which is important to communicate your ideas. You should also use the Internet to gain more knowledge and find out about opportunities in your area of interest.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I have many areas of interest, such as making home movies for fun, doing projects around my house, and investing my savings.