By Bill Kline
A future class valedictorian from Southern New Jersey who wanted to be a math major, Pat Anderson Myers ’82 visited Lafayette for a one-week program called Minority Introduction to Engineering (MITE). The program changed her life, inspiring a switch from math to engineering that led to a highly successful career and to volunteer activities that are helping transform the lives of other high school students.
“That program is how I found out about engineering, how it ties everything together,” says Myers, a chemical engineering graduate who holds a master’s in chemical engineering from Drexel University. “Understanding engineering is understanding how things work together.”
A Control Systems group leader for Philadelphia Energy Solutions (formerly Sunoco, Inc.), Myers is responsible for ensuring that everything works smoothly inside the 330,000 bbl/day oil refinery. She and her team of five ensure that the computers running the chemical processes are performing efficiently as crude oil is turned into various fuel products.
A wide variety of measurements, such as flow, temperature, and pressure, have to be monitored in the refinery control room. Myers translates the data into a graphical interface for control room operators. This interface provides them with the visual snapshot to assist with efficient, effective, and meaningful decisions.
“I love creating operator displays with graphical information—actually transforming data into information by using color and sounds,” she says.
Taking on new challenges is one reason why Myers has held many posts in a career that began in 1982 as a process engineer with Mobil Oil Refinery in Paulsboro, N.J.
In 1989, Myers moved to Rohm and Haas Company, where she held several engineering and information technology roles in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Delaware. She joined Sunoco in 2007 as a control system engineer, becoming group leader in 2011.
“Lafayette gave me a good foundation in engineering—all of the concepts and basics,” says Myers, who was a member of Association of Black Collegians. “The professors were great instructors.”
One in particular was George Siemiencow, professor of chemistry.
“He explained topics very well and gave me a different insight to help me understand,” says Myers. “I’m a process person. He gave me a methodology on how to think about and attack problems, and with that it’s pretty easy to figure things out in engineering and life in general.”
Myers, who lives in southern New Jersey with her husband, volunteers as a fitness instructor offering exercise programs to communities and nonprofit organizations. For example, she teaches gospel line dancing and zumba at churches.
Last year she completed a six-month leadership forum offered by the Urban League of Philadelphia, which culminated with a project at a high school.
“We taught students about different aspects of everyday life,” she says. “My assignment was getting the students excited about creative careers in technology. We wanted students to understand that you can have a career in engineering, computers, or technology and still be creative.”
She and her team had the students craft an advertising campaign for a mobile application to be used on a smart phone.
“Interacting with the students was very rewarding, knowing that I have influenced someone to pursue a career in technology,” she says.
The experience was a nice slice of symmetry—reflecting Myers’ own discovery as a high school student that engineering can be creative.
“It is fun, rewarding monetarily, and inspires me to keep learning new things,” she says.