Industry Partner Connects Students With Their Futures
“As a Phillips 66 fellowship recipient, I have the freedom to direct my battery research down a path that I believe has the most promise for the future.”
Katherine Tomera (BSChE ’16) has ambitions for a successful career in the oil and gas industry. Jialang “Jimmy” Tang plans to pursue a career researching batteries after he completes his doctoral studies. Tomera and Tang have different future goals, but they share one thing: They are among the several Purdue University students benefiting from gifts by Phillips 66.
Since 2013, Houston-based Phillips 66 has given $100,000 a year in donations, including to the Purdue Day of Giving, to create a scholarship and fellowship program for the College of Engineering and support several other University programs.
“I really feel honored to be selected from among my peers for the Phillips 66 doctoral fellowship, and this award is a constant reminder for me to excel in my research,” says Tang, who is studying under chemical engineering professor Vilas Pol. “As a Phillips 66 fellowship recipient, I have the freedom to direct my battery research down a path that I believe has the most promise for the future.”
Tomera’s decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Purdue was a no-brainer given the University’s global reputation for leading engineering programs. But the logistics and financial considerations were another matter for an out-of-state student from Anchorage, Alaska, more than 3,500 miles from West Lafayette.
The Phillips 66 scholarship was life-changing for Tomera. She received her chemical engineering degree in 2016, using the scholarship to offset out-of-state tuition, fees and related education expenses, which enabled her to graduate with less college debt. Through Purdue Engineering, she made valuable industry connections that opened the door for a job as a process engineer for Phillips 66’s Los Angeles office. Tomera and her family also appreciate the commitment by Purdue President Mitch Daniels and University leadership to freeze tuition for all students for six consecutive years.
“Purdue’s intent to make college more affordable has a greater impact than just one’s wallet,” she says. “Decreasing the financial burden helps to reduce the large stress load that many students already experience from the challenging curriculum.”
“Purdue’s intent to make college more affordable has a greater impact than just one’s wallet. Decreasing the financial burden helps to reduce the large stress load that many students already experience from the challenging curriculum.”
“Tomera and Tang’s stories are what motivates Phillips 66 to support Purdue Engineering and its mission to develop skilled engineers who play an active role in partnering with the oil and gas industry, says Jonathan Rosenberg, manager of Talent Planning and Acquisition at Phillips 66.
Since 2013, the energy company has awarded 45 Purdue student scholarships and fellowships, including 35 for the College of Engineering, while providing funding for a host of academic and student programs, research laboratories, and activities for Engineering and other colleges across campus.
“Our University partners help us build the depth and breadth of capabilities that Phillips 66 needs to provide energy and improve lives now and in the future. And they’re instilling a passion for excellence in our future workforce,” says Rosenberg, a 1992 Purdue College of Liberal Arts alumnus. “We hope our gifts enhance the experiences of Purdue Engineering students — not only in the classroom, but through exposure to hands-on work. We are investing in Purdue’s future because we think the University produces some of the world’s very best engineers.”
Receiving a Phillips 66 scholarship extended beyond its financial value for Tomera.
Even though there are no employment guarantees with industry-funded scholarships, she was able to attend a luncheon on campus during her junior year and networked with Phillips 66 employees and representatives from other companies.
“Years later, I have interacted with a number of these individuals while working at Phillips 66, despite geographical differences,” she says. “They often recall my Boilermaker background, and this commonality allows us to connect beyond the extensive Phillips 66 organizational chart.”
Tang, who is married, is a native of Fujian, China. But he calls Plano, Texas, his second home. Tang, 31/2 years into his dissertation research, is focusing on the development of high energy density anode materials for lithium ion batteries, in particular the interfacial reactions taking place at the surfaces of silicon and metal oxide based anodes.
“My wife and I plan to have kids in the near future, so being debt-free after my graduate studies is definitely helping us take a step toward this goal with ease,” Tang says. “The Phillips 66 fellowship has allowed me to stay debt-free for the last year of my graduate study.”
To make a gift to the College of Engineering in the name of an industry partner, contact John Langenkamp, director of corporate relations, at 765-494-9860, or email@example.com.