Oil Spill Inspires Chemical Engineering Alumna to Focus on Safety

Prompted by the immense affect that the oil spill had on her home state, chemical engineering alumna and Louisiana native, Mollie Burke, decided to take a career path guaranteed to make a difference.

Burke is currently employed as a Process Safety Engineer for Chevron Global Upstream and Gas in Houston, Texas.

“Process safety is a cross-functional responsibility involving designing quality, consistent and safe operating facilities with the collaboration of engineering, operations and safety,” she said. “I have always wanted a rewarding and challenging career where I have an opportunity to make a difference.”

Burke’s main responsibilities include supporting Chevron’s Global Upstream and Gas business units in managing change and risk in facilities and operations. She coordinates a forum that allows Upstream advisors to share best practices and develop risk-based solutions.

“At work, I am involved in developing tools and resources to help my company better execute safety processes and assess risk,” she explained. “For example, when assessing risk, there are tools that can estimate the potential severity of consequences from process safety spills and releases, as well as how much could be released. This helps people better evaluate risks and what safeguards are in place or needed for risk reduction. I also provide process support to help business units effectively execute these safety processes. This can include providing training and analyzing metrics that measure the process’s health.”

Burke credits LSU’s College of Engineering professors for ensuring engineering students know “safety first.”

“Professors at LSU reinforced safety through stories of their own experiences and reinforced safety during our engineering labs as well,” Burke said.

As a student, Burke interned at Chevron and conducted a data study to help identify improvement opportunities in the personal and process safety space.

Burke initially chose LSU chemical engineering because it has a wide range of opportunity spanning various industries, she said. The idea of working at the field level or at a home base intrigued her.

“A degree in chemical engineering isn’t limiting,” she said. “The opportunities available upon graduation are endless.”


Article by Erica Pater, Assistant Manager of External Relations, LSU College of Engineering