Glen Benge, a retired senior technical advisor with expertise in petroleum engineering and chemistry, served as an expert witness in the Deepwater Horizon trial. Glen said he chose to work on the trial to understand what happened before the accident and work to prevent a reoccurrence. He and his wife, Laurie, an industrial hygienist, vowed to remember the men (The Eleven) who lost their lives during the disaster.
“When the blowout occurred on the Deepwater Horizon rig, there were 11 people killed and 17 injured,” Glen said. “The bodies of those 11 individuals have never been recovered. There are 11 families that lost a husband, father, brother. There are 11 men who will never get to see their children grow up, walk their daughter down the aisle, fish with their son or hug their wife.”
“We stepped back during the investigation and determined a big factor in the Deepwater Horizon incident was a failure of engineers to communicate and collaborate,” Glen said. “We wanted to dedicate the money earned from the incident to Baylor Engineering to raise awareness. We wanted to pay it forward.”
The Rogers Lobby Renovation revitalized the collaborative space within the building. With all new furniture, paint, computer and desk workspaces, and white boards from floor to ceiling, the space is now packed with students working together on a daily basis.
“The lounge area fits perfectly with our goal to take engineers out of their silos and make sure they collaborate with all the disciplines,” Glen said. “Baylor is one of the few schools that does interdisciplinary projects. It’s not just one branch of engineering working on senior design projects. They involve mechanical, electrical and computer engineering – all of the different disciplines.”
Glen says beginning to work across disciplines while in school is a unique and very strong message to get out.
“If I’m an engineer and I want to make a change or adjustment to the project that impacts how someone else does their job, without collaboration and awareness, that project fails,” Glen said.
The Benges believe in supporting a program that trains ethical engineers who will work together to solve problems. And they believe Baylor does that.