Texas A&M Conference on Energy: 2017 Panelists

2017 Event Resources

The Texas A&M Conference on Energy will feature panelists and discussions from influential experts in industry, academia, and government.

Big Data, Big Responsibility: The Role of Big Data in Energy

September 25, 2017 (Monday) – 1.30 p.m. – 2.30 p.m.

The advancement in technology and computational power has enabled huge amount of data collection in real time, which has initiated the big data era. Today big data analytics is becoming an essential tool for businesses as well as society, providing assistance in decision-making processes in numerous energy industries. With increasing popularity comes lots of questions on its current capabilities and future potential. In this panel organization, we aim to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with the use of big data in the energy sector.

Dr. Faruque Hasan Dr. Faruque Hasan (Moderator)
Assistant Professor, Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University


Dr. Hasan is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. Prior to joining at TAMU, Dr. Hasan was a post-doctoral associate at Princeton University from 2011–2014. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the National University of Singapore in 2010, and B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology in 2005. He is the recipient of the Best Paper Award in Computers & Chemical Engineering (2015); the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (2015); the World Future Foundation PhD Award in Environmental and Sustainability Research (2010); and the Best Technical Paper Award in the 1st Annual Gas Symposium in Qatar (2009). Dr. Hasan is a senior member of AIChE. Dr. Hasan’s research is at the intersection of process systems engineering, materials science, and applied mathematics. Application areas include chemical process intensification, carbon capture and utilization, shale gas utilization, optimization of complex chemical, biochemical and biological systems.

Dr. Yu Ding Dr. Yu Ding (Panelist)
Professor, Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, Texas A&M University (Panelist)


Dr. Yu Ding is the Mike & Sugar Barnes Professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering and Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, both at Texas A&M University, and a faculty allocate with Texas A&M Energy Institute.  Dr. Ding received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 2001. His research interests are in the area of system informatics and data science with applications to wind energy.  Dr. Ding is a Fellow of IISE, a Fellow of ASME, a senior member of IEEE, and a member of INFORMS.

James Peters James Peters (Panelist)
Analytical Specialist, The Dow Chemical Company


Jim Peters is a Statistical Specialist for the Manufacturing Analytics department within Dow Chemical’s Continuous Improvement Center of Excellence.  He has been employed with Dow for more than 6.5 years.  He has spent the duration of his time there utilizing analytics capabilities to optimize manufacturing plants and labs across the company.  Jim has been at the forefront of integrating greater analytics and contextualizing data for the manufacturing environment at Dow.  His work has contributed to three prestigious awards – the Golden Mousetrap Award (2015), which Northwest Analytics and Dow Chemical shared from Design News, the Manufacturing Leadership Award (2015 & 2016) Big Data and Analytics category, from the Manufacturing Leadership Council (MLC) and Frost and Sullivan.

Jim has a background is in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics.  He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and a Master’s in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University in Chicago.  Jim is married to wife Cristy and enjoys spending time outdoors with his friends and family.

Brian Richards Brian Richards (Panelist)
Managing Director, Innovation, Accenture


Brian Richards has spent his career focused on helping the most senior leaders at large companies, particularly industrial companies, drive greater innovation using digital technologies. He is currently the Innovation Lead for Accenture in the South West Region and the Managing Director for Accenture’s Houston Innovation Hub which he has led from conception to its launch in February 2017. The Hub now has over 40+ amazing people, conducted 200+ workshops, and is delivering innovative projects in machine learning, video analytics, remote operations, and much more. In addition, Brian is very active thought leader with numerous publications, whitepapers, media articles, and over a dozen patents. He works regularly with research institutions, venture firms, start-ups, and large partners and am routinely sought out for innovation and digital presentations or panels. He is actively involved in the Houston Innovation Community and led the strategy for the Greater Houston Partnership and City of Houston on driving more innovation locally. He is the Chair of the Notre Dame Electrical Engineering Industry Advisory Board and work often with other research institutions such as MIT, Rice, and Vanderbilt. 

Brant Swidler Brant Swidler (Panelist)
Customer Success Manager, SparkCognition


Brant Swidler is the Manager of Customer Success and Partnership at SparkCognition.  In this role, he is responsible for managing the development of SparkCognitions A.I. products for Oil and Gas, Utilities and Aerospace and Defense customers as well as working with strategic partners on co-development efforts. Prior to joining SparkCognition, Brant spent 5+ years at Schlumberger both as a General Field Engineer based in Hassi-Messaoud, Algeria and as a strategy and operations consultant with Schlumberger Business Consulting focusing on digital oilfield implementations.  Brant is also the co-founder of an independent consulting firm focused on innovation and strategic implementation of new technologies in the energy industry. Clients included venture, licensing and R&D departments of Global Fortune 50 companies, top tier venture capital firms and a variety of startup companies.  Brant has a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Moving toward a Safe, Secure & Sustainable Energy Supply Chain:

What is the current state? What are tomorrow’s challenges?

September 26, 2017 (Tuesday) – 1.30 p.m. – 2.30 p.m.

Energy production and distribution are major challenges for today’s and tomorrow’s energy infrastructure. How energy infrastructures are constructed will have a substantial impact on the development of future technologies. To build, maintain, and grow a resilient energy supply chain, sustainability, safety, and security must be carefully considered in the planning process. This panel discussion will focus on these three major issues around the energy supply chain: sustainability, safety, and security.

Captain James Pettigrew Captain James Pettigrew (Moderator)
Director, Operations for the Ocean Energy Safety Institute, Texas A&M University


Retired Navy Captain Jim Pettigrew is the Director of Operations for the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI). A partnership between Texas A&M University, University of Houston, and University of Texas – Austin; OESI provides a forum for dialogue, shared learning and cooperative research among academia, government, industry and other non- governmental organizations. OESI’s focus is offshore-related technologies and activities that help ensure safer and environmentally responsible offshore operations. Jim assumed the position of Director in May 2014. Throughout his three decades in the Navy, Pettigrew worked predominantly in operational oceanography, surface warfare and information warfare; managing and mitigating risk at all levels of operations. Pettigrew received his Masters of Science in Physical Oceanography and Meteorology from the Naval Postgraduate School, and received his Bachelors of Science in Ocean Engineering from Texas A&M University.

J. Gregory Hall J. Gregory Hall (Panelist)
Principal Electrical Engineer, Eastman Chemical Company


Greg Hall is a Principal Electrical Engineer with Eastman Chemical Company with 36 years of experience at Texas Operations in Longview, Texas. He is the IPS (Instrument Protective Systems) Design engineer, chairman of the Texas Operations IPS Committee, member of the Eastman Corporate IPS Governance Council. He has received an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. M. Sam Mannan Dr. M. Sam Mannan (Panelist)
Director, Mary Kay O’Connor Safety Center – Professor, Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University


Dr. M. Sam Mannan is Regents Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University and Executive Director of the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center at the Texas Engineering Experiment Station. The mission of the Center is to improve safety in the chemical process industry by conducting programs and research activities that promote safety as second nature for all plant personnel in their day-to-day activities. Dr. Mannan also holds concurrent joint appointments as Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Professor of Petroleum Engineering, Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Debalina Sengupta Dr. Debalina Sengupta (Panelist)
Associate Director, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station – Gas and Fuels Research Center


Dr. Sengupta is the Associate Director of the Gas and Fuels Research Center for Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). Her roles include research collaboration development for the Center through mega project funds, industry partnerships, and other channels. She started her research career working on the natural gas based agricultural chemical production complex in the Lower Mississippi River Corridor. Her research was focused on process integration for developing chemicals from biomass within an existing industrial complex and quantification of sustainability using an optimization based approach. Following this, her first book titled “Chemicals from biomass: integrating bioprocesses into chemical production complexes for sustainable development” was published by CRC Press in the Green Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Series in 2012. After her PhD from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, she went to work as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Risk Management Research Laboratory of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati, OH. There, she worked on multiple research initiatives on sustainability and systems analysis through the Sustainable Technology Division. Specific projects included the Sustainable Supply Chain Design for Biofuels, a Co-operative Research and Development Agreement with Procter & Gamble on Sustainable Supply Chain Design of Consumer Products, and the use of sustainability metrics for decision making. She has several peer reviewed journal articles dealing with a wide range of topics like process integration, sustainability metrics, life cycle assessment etc. Her latest book has been published in early 2017 titled “Measuring Progress towards Sustainability”, a Springer publication. Dr. Sengupta has held several leadership roles at AIChE. She was a Director for 2011-2015, Programming Chair for 2014-2016 and currently the Second Vice Chair for the Environmental Division. She is also the Director for the Fuels and Petrochemicals Division for the 2016-2019 term.