2001 Distinguished Service Award: Roger Rolke

// Chemical & Biological Engineering

Tags: alumni, CBE E-Day, Engineers' Day, Roger Rolke

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Roger W. Rolke
Director, Engineering
Equilon Technology Company
BSChE ’63

After he received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1963, Roger W. Rolke took a summer engineering job in California that influenced his life’s direction for the next 38 years. After earning his PhD in chemical engineering under Professor Richard Wilhelm at Princeton University in 1967, the South Milwaukee native returned to California and began a 34-year career at Shell Oil Company.

Early on, he was involved in many chemical engineering research and technical service projects, especially those in coal liquefaction and combustion/chemical waste incineration. He led an Environmental Protection Agency-funded project to develop basic usage guidelines for emission-controlling afterburners. In 1971, Rolke moved to Houston and began his first formal management position as supervisor of production engineering research. His research group developed significant new oil and gas projection technology, often carrying out chemical reactions in production zones one to two miles below the ground’s surface.

He accepted several positions of increasing responsibility, including manager of materials science and engineering at Shell’s renowned Westhollow Technology Center, and senior technical and operating management positions in the company’s Norco Refinery and Chemical Complex and Offshore Production Division in Louisiana. There Rolke helped introduce several key technical support and management system improvements, including deployed technical teams and enhanced automated operations monitoring and control.

When he returned to Houston in 1986, Rolke soon became director of engineering, a position he currently holds. Presently part of Equilon Technology, the organization includes many world-renowned scientists and engineers, and supplies technology to many Shell and Texaco units and third parties through Shell Global Solutions.

Rolke is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and has served on advisory boards at the University of Texas, Texas A&M, University of Texas-Houston, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1966, he married his wife, Judy, an associate director of literacy and a mentor-teacher through Rice University’s Center for Education. Together they enjoy Houston’s many cultural and dining opportunities, but also spend time traveling, hiking in the mountains, and piloting private flying excursions. They have two children, Kristie and Bob, who live in San Francisco.