Yine VerBrugge: The problem solver - Energy Factor
Behind the energy

Yine VerBrugge: The problem solver

Nov. 29, 2016

Any time that I’m back home in New York, I try to stop by Aquinas High School (class of 2003) in the Bronx. The school is just a few blocks from the Bronx Zoo and I credit the place, its teachers and the friends I made there for helping me get to where I am today – working for one of the world’s largest energy companies.

New York City is home. It’s where I was born and went to high school and college, at Manhattan College, where I majored in civil engineering. Through grade school, I also got to spend some time in my parents’ homeland, the Dominican Republic (DR), with my grandparents in Santiago, the island’s second-largest city. I still go back to the DR to vacation with my sisters and to visit friends and family.

Math and science always came easy to me. At Aquinas, I credit my tenth grade math teacher, Mrs. Horwath, an electrical engineer, for showing me how I could use my science and math skills to pursue a career in engineering.

I was initially connected with ExxonMobil thanks to a college scholarship that I earned from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. ExxonMobil helps support the foundation, so in addition to tuition I was introduced to a company mentor. Much like Mrs. Horwath back at Aquinas, my mentor showed me how I could use my engineering degree in the energy industry.

I’ve now been at ExxonMobil for a little more than eight years. My first assignment was in New York, where I helped maintain and replace the massive underground tanks that store the gasoline we sell at our service stations. Since then, other jobs have allowed me to travel the world.

Right now I work for our pipeline division. In June, my team and I completed one of our challenging projects, at our Beaumont refinery in Texas. We were tasked with connecting a pipeline extension to an operating pipe. I know this may sound like a real simple task but believe me, it wasn’t. That’s because the pipe we connected to the extension fed the entire facility, so shutting down that particular pipe would have taken the whole refinery – and the 345,000 barrels of oil it processed every day – offline. Talk about pressure…that’s equivalent to the average daily fuel consumption of about 10 million U.S. cars.

Add to this that we only had a three-day window to perform the operation. But thanks to careful preparation and great teamwork, we pulled it off without a hitch. The new extension has increased Beaumont’s daily capacity by more than 5 percent, helping to meet the energy demands of America.

Those are the types of team achievements that I share with students any time that I am back at Aquinas. I also tell them how the teachers there pushed me to excel and how the confidence that they instilled in me has helped me get to where I am today.

Tags: Yine Verbrugge, innovation, Behind the energy
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