Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Advisory Board

Chemical & Petroleum Engineering Department Advisory Board 

The Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Advisory Board is an independent volunteer body that brings leaders with local, state, national, and international expertise in academia, industry, or government together to advise, assist, promote, and financially support the School.  

Its goal is to assist the Department Chair in achieving the Department’s mission and goals, and in being recognized nationally and internationally, among industrial, academic, and government institutions, for excellence in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.

Board members support the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in a variety of ways, including:

  • Actively supporting programs that directly enhance the undergraduate and graduate student experience in the Department by providing an interactive forum for communication among the professional community, faculty and students, and key stakeholders.
  • Collaborating on the Department’s Strategic Plan.
  • Reviewing and providing feedback and support on the Department’s programs and practices including support for ABET accreditation.
  • Offering external perspective and connections by providing industry trends information, and a bridge to organizations that hire Chemical and Petroleum Engineers and/or have research and collaboration opportunities.
  • Providing experienced professional resources when needed in support of faculty and Department projects.
  • Networking with and provide outreach to alumni.

John Gargani, Former Southwestern Energy

Please tell us about your educational experience, degrees earned, and any relevant honors/achievements:

I earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering degree with Petroleum Specialization from the University of Pittsburgh in 1986.


Please give a brief overview of your career history in the industry:

I have over 30 years of experience in the oil and gas industry’s upstream and midstream segments.  I served as Vice President - Human Resources at Southwestern Energy Company in Houston, Texas, a position to which I was appointed in May 2016, prior to retiring in June 2017.  Prior to this role, I served as Vice President and General Manager – Strategy, Performance and Innovation; Vice President and General Manager – Midstream Services; Vice President – Economic Planning & Acquisitions; as well as other management roles within the Company.  Prior to joining Southwestern Energy in 1993, I held various engineering positions with Conoco Inc. in its Midland, Texas office. I am a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas and am a member of several energy industry organizations including SPE, SPEE, AAPG, IPAA, and TIPRO.  I previously served as Chairman of the 10,000+ member Gulf Coast Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)

I serve as Secretary for the board of the Triangle Education Foundation, which focuses on developing future leaders with character and integrity within the membership of Triangle Fraternity, a fraternity of engineers, architects, and scientists.  I also serve as the Chairman of Child Legacy International, a non-profit organization which helps build viable and sustainable communities through clean water, medical care with a focus on mother and child health, and vocational training programs in Malawi and Zimbabwe.  I was on the Finance Council of my local parish in Houston prior to relocating back to Pittsburgh.


What drew you to engineering? 

In high school, it was a desire to apply my aptitude in mathematics and the physical sciences.  As I progressed through my undergraduate years, it was more a desire to solve problems and have an impact.


What did you learn from your education at Pitt that helped you succeed the most in your work?

I think the one of the key things that I learned at Pitt was the importance of being able to work with other people to generate new ideas and solve problems.  Each individual has their own particular abilities that, when combined with others, will result in the best product. Additionally, I learned to view every problem/issue as an opportunity to solve a puzzle.  I learned the desire to not stop until an answer was developed.


What do you predict will be most important for students starting their careers in your industry in order to be successful?

Being able to work across discipline lines – with other engineers but more importantly with non-engineering professionals from fields such as Business, Finance, Marketing, Communication, etc.

Also, be adaptable and very open to change.  The oil and gas industry today is much different than the one I joined back in 1986.  Those who didn’t adapt, unfortunately, did not succeed.


Considering all the people you've met in your field, what personal attributes do you believe are essential for success?

There are a lot of them.  Some of my favorites are: 

  • Be the “go to person” in a crunch. 
  • Focus on results.  
  • Learn and understand as much as you can about as much as you can.
  • Never say “it’s not my job”. 
  • Be open to new ideas. 
  • Listen to what other people have to say. 
  • Don’t avoid the hard issues.
  • Give back!


Some personal “stuff”:

I was raised in the Brookline area of Pittsburgh and attended Seton-LaSalle High School.  I have been married to my wife, Melissa, since 1987 and we share four children.  Melissa (BSIE 87) and our second son Matthew (BSME 14) are both engineering graduates of the University of Pittsburgh.  John, Melissa, and their youngest son Conrad recently relocated back to Pittsburgh from Houston, Texas.  

Nick Liparulo, Advisory Board Chair, Former Westinghouse

Educational experience, degrees earned, and any relevant honors/achievements:

Mr. Liparulo has bachelor and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. He has authored approximately 30 external publications and has three patent disclosures. He had been a registered Professional Chemical Engineer, has served on the board of Columbia College (South Carolina), and has a green belt in six sigma.   He has been recognized as a “Distinguished Alumni” by the Swanson School of Engineering, Department of Chemical.  He is a Pittsburgh native, and Mr. Liparulo and his wife, Anne, reside in North Huntingdon, Pa.  They have two grown children and three grandchildren. 

Career history in the industry:

Mr. Liparulo forged a career guiding, growing and leading major businesses to success.  He served as a C level executive, senior business leader executive, on the CEO’s staff at Westinghouse and led the largest business segments there.  During his career he managed nearly every business area of Westinghouse, including plant outage services, engineering, major projects, I&C, decommissioning and new plant engineering.  This included responsibility for diverse global businesses with more than 20 major locations in the USA, Europe, Africa and Asia.  During his tenure, the businesses he led had annual revenues totaling ~$2 Billion, and 4,000 employees.  He was responsible for all aspects of the business, including product innovation, development, design, marketing, project management, project implementation and the associated financials.  In these activities he developed and mentored personnel and implemented new processes which significantly improved the operations within Westinghouse. His expertise includes business development, personnel and operations management, business oversight (Board of Directors), and technology and product management.

What drew you to engineering?

  I was drawn to engineering, since it had a more definite career path than a liberal arts degree.  Plus I was reasonably good in math and science and wanted to understand how these skills could be practically used.


What did you learn from your education at Pitt that helped you succeed the most in your work?

I had two educations at Pitt, first the formal education, in engineering.  This provided me the basic skills I needed to get a job in an engineering company and perform in the job.  But I also learned that problem solving uses the skills and equations but you needed a basic understanding of the physics to solve problems.  You need the “equations” applied creatively.  I believe that great engineers solve problems with simple solutions.

The second education I had was more personal.   I came from a small town and had little exposure to diversity or “big city life”.   I learned by living in Oakland first in a dorm then in an apartment.  Being on your own helps you to grow up.  I also had the opportunity to meet people with different cultures and backgrounds and found this stimulating and learned from them.


What do you predict will be most important for students starting their careers in your industry in order to be successful?

  During my time at Westinghouse, I hired many newly graduated engineers.  I used to meet with them in a roundtable and discuss Westinghouse.  I was asked by one individual what was important for success. I gave it some thought and here is my career advice:   

  1. Work Hard – It is valued by your peers and supervisors.  Commitment to a the COMPANY and your CAREER is important

  2. Attitude – The one thing that you completely control is your attitude.  You will be disappointed it is inevitable.  Your reaction to it is within your control.  No one likes to be around or work with people with bad attitudes.

  3. Risk Taking – Do not be afraid to take risks.  We asked our best people to take the hardest assignments and by doing so you will learn what you can accomplish and it is more likely the company will succeed.  Just know when to ask for help, and do not be too proud to do so.

  4. Teamwork - You win or lose as a team in business. If the project fails the team fails and so do you.  Even if you did your part well.   So do your part well and help the team to win.

  5. Values - If you have bad values, you will fail.  Treat people well and obey the rules of the company.

  6. Learning – If you think you have nothing to learn you are expendable.  You learn and improve every day.


Considering all the people you've met in your field, what personal attributes do you believe are essential for success?

This is a tough question. 

I guess first of all, you must remember that leaders are always under a microscope great leaders know this and do not lose their cool or point fingers even under pressure.  You solve the problem and deal with the people issues.  

Great leaders have humility and understand that most of the work is done by others, they are good listeners, and they recognize that the best idea may not be theirs.  But understand the decision is yours and you are accountable.

Recognize your people who do a good job, but understand them enough to make sure that they are recognized in a way that they appreciate it.   When family and friends see recognition, it goes a long way.

Finally in doing analysis of any problem or issue, be data driven.   The engineering education provides this discipline of thought and making analysis based decisions is better than emotional ones.

Picking the right team is essential for success.  If you pick the right people you can rely on them and life is better.

So I guess in summary

  • Keep your cool under pressure
  • Be humble but understand that you still have to make the call. 
  • Recognize your team
  • Use data to solve issues not emotions
  • Pick the right people

Monica S. Monroe, Exxon Mobil

Educational experience, degrees earned, and any relevant honors/achievements:

BS Chemical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh 2011

  • Institute of Chemical Engineers Award, 2011
  • Douglas Kenney Huber Memorial Award for Outstanding Senior Award, 2011

MS Engineering Management, George Washington University 2014  

Career history in the industry:

Monica was able to make practical application of her studies in two internship at Sherwin-William's R&D facility in Cleveland, Ohio and at ExxonMobil Refining & Supply in Fairfax, Virginia. Her ExxonMobil internship allowed the application of her problem solving skills to analyze the global shipbuilding market, learning in depth about the oil and maritime industries.

Upon graduation Monica began work in ExxonMobil Refining & Supply's Supply and Transportation department. There Monica coordinated crude shipment from the Middle East to southeast Asia. Over her 3 year tenure in Fairfax Monica worked in several different crude coordination roles, finishing as the first female Saudi and Iraqi crude scheduler. These role provided valuable insight to supply chain logistics as well as the experience of working with colleagues across the globe.

In the fall of 2014 Monica relocated to ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge Refinery. She began as a process contact engineer before moving to the site utilities coordinator role, working with the plant steam and power systems. In June 2018 Monica moved to the fuels economist role, developing the short term run plan for the Baton Rouge refinery.

What drew you to engineering?

Interest in chemistry and math, also my father was a chemical engineer for BP.  

What did you learn from your education that helped you succeed the most in your work?

At Pitt I learned how to solve problems which is at the core of engineering, and really all work. I also learned to be curious and explore the world which rounds out a beautiful life.

What do you predict will be most important for students starting their careers in your industry in order to be successful?

Flexibility in thinking to solve new and complex problems.


Considering all the people you've met in your field, what personal attributes do you believe are essential for success?

Empathy – working in manufacturing involves working with people and being understanding of their challenges will set you on the path for success.

The ability to thoughtfully listen is important to absorb what is around you, especially early in your career. 

Thomas Webster, Dept Chair, Northeastern University

Please tell us about your educational experience, degrees earned, and any relevant honors/achievements:

I received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Pitt in 1990 and loved every minute of it ! It was tough, challenging, and I gave up a lot of free time, but when I graduated, the feeling of accomplishment was wonderful ! I got involved in student government, teaching, research, co-op, and more, trying to take advantage of everything Pitt has to offer. After Pitt, I got an MS and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from RPI knowing that I wanted to become a professor. Since graduating from RPI in 2000, I was a faculty member at Purdue helping to start their Biomedical Engineering Department, then Brown University, and now I am a Department Chair of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University. I attribute my decision to be a professor to all of the great faculty and mentors I had throughout my education, many at Pitt ! 


Please give a brief overview of your career history in the industry:

In addition to the above, I completed three co-op rotations while at Pitt at International Paper in Erie, PA. I had responsibilities to improve their paper recycling  process, which I enjoyed. However, through an undergraduate research experience I had at Pitt, I became more excited towards conducting medical research. I was also given the opportunity to be a part of supplemental instruction while at Pitt which turned me on to teaching and helping others learn. Based on that, I knew that I wanted to become a professor to mix research and teaching together into one job. I still am integrally involved in industry through my research and starting companies based on my research. 


What drew you to engineering?

I actually started at Pitt as a business major, but realized quickly that I needed to learn by doing "things". Engineering is an excellent field to learn while you are building and actually doing  things. I learn best by doing and it is more fun for me than just sitting in a classroom taking notes. Engineers work with their hands all the time, so this field is perfect for me. 


What did you learn from your education that helped you succeed the most in your work?

By being at a large diverse university, I learned to take advantage of every opportunity. For example, Pitt is a major research university, so I learned a lot out of the classroom on how to conduct research that can help real human lives. Pitt also has a very active student government to work with faculty and others to improve the University experience. Pitt also has a great learning skills center in which I learned how to teach or help others learn. I tried to take advantage of everything that Pitt has to offer and that has helped me tremendously in life to do the same.


What do you predict will be most important for students starting their careers in your industry in order to be successful?

I think you need a strong technical background but it is also important to realize that learning does not stop when you graduate. You need to constantly look for opportunities for professional growth and learn throughout your career, or others will pass you by. You have to constantly challenge yourself. Constantly learning and challenging yourself is also the best way to live a fun, fulfilling life ! Pitt provides those challenges that students just need to find.


Considering all the people you've met in your field, what personal attributes do you believe are essential for success?

By far, the most successful people I see are great collaborators. They do not do things for personal awards or credit, but to help the team to accomplish the goal. They share credit for success and work hard to maintain and create collaborations. Successful people are real team players. 


Board Members Not Pictured:

Mark Kachmar, Former Westinghouse

Cliff Kowall, Lubrizol Corporation

Dave Moniot, Venture Engineering

Mary Zeis, Former Proctor and Gamble