Buddy Creef has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Va.Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is currently national sales manager at HIMA Americas in Houston, Texas. HIMA is the world’s leading independent designer of automated safety solutions used in the process industry. HIMA provides safety and critical control solutions for shutdown systems, burner management, turbo machinery, and for pipeline safety. Providing systems that are cyber secure has become a priority in the last few years.

(Photo Courtesy of Buddy Creef)

(Photo Courtesy of Buddy Creef)

Tell me about your education.

“I was educated at Virginia Tech, one of the foremost engineering schools in the world. I followed a standard course of study with an emphasis on semiconductors and finite state machines. Upon graduation, I decided to apply my engineering methodology to solving my client’s control and automation needs. That led me to programmable devices and for the past 30 years I have been involved in providing emergency shutdown systems for the process industries. Along the way, I was fortunate to attend the Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership. I also earned the title of TÜV Functional Safety Engineer from TÜV Rheinland.”

Tell me about your work.

“My job is to provide an independent layer of protection for industrial processes. In an industrial process plant, there is a basic process control system that has the primary responsibility to operate the plant safety. But, since the consequences of a failure can be so great, most plants add an independent layer of safety. Basically, an independent system watches over the process and if an unsafe situation occurs, the safety layer takes over and takes the process to a safe state. These independent and diverse systems have long be a standard practice in the process industries. But, in the last few years, a trend has emerged of using ‘related’ products and BPCS and safety…HIMA believes that the layers should remain totally independent and diverse. That is why we only manufacture safety systems, assuring our customers of maximum safety.”

“Another emerging threat makes this diversity even more important; that is the threat of cyber-attacks. When most of us think of viruses and cyber-attacks we think of the PC’s on our desks at work or at home. When a PC gets a virus, it slows down, acts erratically, erases files, and generally does things we don’t want it to do… But imagine that, instead of our desktop computer, that virus infected a special purpose computer that was running a refinery. It could cause the refinery to shut down, cause an unsafe situation, damage property and the environment, or even cause the loss of human life. Preventing these attacks again requires that we have separate and diverse systems to give us an additional layer of protection for safety reasons and to protect against cyber-attacks… So often my job comes down to helping my customers protect their plants by supplying separate, diverse protection systems.”

How does your education help you in your job?

At Virginia Tech, I learned how to approach and solve problems. While I have never worked as an engineer, I have always thought that the problem solving process I learned in college is the single thing that has helped me the most in my career.

Richard Carranza is a reporter from the Houston, Texas area and published his first work in 1990. His education includes a bachelor of arts in chemistry from Cornell College, master of science in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University, and a masters of business administration from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. In addition to writing, Richard is involved in the design of petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, oil/gas facilities and ethanol plants. He also carries out writing assignments for publications like Chemical Processing Magazine, Maritime Executive Magazine and Chemical Online.