Leader Under 40: Stephen Thomas

Automation Projects Team Lead, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering - B.S. Chemical Engineering, Auburn University

11/07/2012


Stephen Thomas, Automation Projects Team Lead, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering - Control Engineering 2012 Leader Under 40Mr. Stephen Thomas, 37
Automation Projects Team Lead, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering
Fairfax, Va.

Academics

B.S. Chemical Engineering, Auburn University

Achievements

Thomas began his career with Olin Corp., where he contributed to the development of Olin’s groundbreaking OMNX PC-based DCS. He helped deploy such cutting edge technologies as a web-based HMI, email alarms, and fault-tolerant Ethernet networks. Upon joining ExxonMobil Research and Engineering (EMRE) in 2005, Thomas’ initial assignment was a major control system replacement project, replacing obsolete mainframe systems at three European refineries. As the OM+S Execution Lead, he was responsible for the development of all the Oil Movements and Storage (OM+S) functionality in the new systems. This major development effort involved leading a “virtual team” spread over 7 countries. Recently, Thomas completed the startup of a major refinery revamp project in Thailand. He was responsible for all of the I+CS scope. The project included the design and implementation of a High Integrity Pressure Protection System (HIPPS), a SIL3 SIS that is typically the most critical SIS in the refinery. Today, Thomas has returned to the U.S. and has taken on the role of Automation Projects Team Lead in ExxonMobil’s downstream engineering office.

Non-work-related activity

Thomas enjoys travel and experiencing new cultures. His recent assignment in Thailand gave him the opportunity to do both. He visited several locations in Thailand, from the streets of Bangkok, to the beautiful islands in the South, to the poorer farming region in the Northeast. As an engineer, it was particularly fascinating to see the impact of new technology on these poorer rural areas, where he witnessed people without air conditioning or TVs updating their Facebook status on their Smartphones!

Engineering-related activity

Thomas is currently in training to achieve certification as a Certified Functional Safety Expert (CFSE). Beyond the personal career benefits of certification, it is important that the I+CS engineering profession as a whole continues to work on improving recognition as a distinct engineering discipline. Participation in professional societies and certification programs supports these valuable efforts.

Interesting details

Thomas is technically a high school dropout. When his parents moved the family after his Junior year in high school, rather than changing high schools, he obtained early admission to the local university. Although he holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering, he has no high school diploma or GED.

Began interest

Thomas’ interest in control systems did not start until relatively late, specifically during his first process control lab in college. Beyond all of the complex mathematics of process control (pardon the pun), he was hooked by the “magic” of making the computer actually do real stuff in the real world. Fifteen years and many projects later, the magic is still there. Between the specifications, calculations, and reviews, it is important to remember that what we do is fun!



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Big plans for small nuclear reactors: Simpler, safer control designs; Smarter manufacturing; Industrial cloud; Mobile HMI; Controls convergence
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.