The Engineering Club's trip to the Conoco Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery was a very fun and informative event. We had the privilege of getting to meet accomplished engineers in their fields, get advice, see a part of the gigantic Bayway complex (which is beyond huge), and get a better understanding of how engineering plays an important roll in the workplace.
In some ways, the trip itself was entertaining. From the rickety, near dereliction school bus that had a window with a broken latch (which would cause it to rattle so loud that we couldn't hear ourselves think) and another window that was being held up with packaging tape, to the lack of specific information as to where the parking was for the bus (which at one point got the bus stuck in front of a roadblock in front of the refinery office). But we eventually got to where we needed to go.
When we reached the first checkpoint, we encountered one of the single-most unforgettable and hilarious events of the tour: our chance meeting with Samuel Jackson, the eagle-eyed, tough-talking, security guard who had a penchant for threatening to beat people with his flash-light (Yep).
This story all began when the guard was going over the attendance list for the group and the President forgot to cross out one person who didn't show up. The security guard then told him "Don't make me beat you with my flashlight", which had us laughing. Someone then asked the guard what his name was, he replied "Samuel Jackson", which was pretty hilarious. We were eventually let through.
We finally found out where to go and parked near the main building, where we were greeted by two engineers from the refinery, who led us inside of the building and briefed us on the refinery's operations, products, logistics, and statistics of how much the refinery put out typically (the Bayway 66 refinery supplies over half of the gasoline in New Jersey for instance). After the amazing introduction, where we were shown small samples of some of the products that they made, we set out to take a tour of the actual refinery.
As we drove into the refinery, we were informed that the refinery was virtually a self-sustaining facility, in the sense that the refinery had its own fire department, cafeteria, fitness center, and everything that it needed to function in a stand-alone situation if a something happened (like Hurricane Sandy).
We then got back to the checkpoint that we first went to when we got lost, and ran into Samuel Jackson again. Except he now gave the engineers (who were our tour guides) a hard time (for fun of course), having one engineer get off the bus and catch up with the bus at the second checkpoint.
This was where we found out that the Bayway complex actually had several different companies operating within it (like BP), who paid to be on the property but had full control over their facilities and were independent of Conoco Phillips. It was pretty interesting to be going through the facility and seeing different companies at the same location (didn't expect that).
The refinery was beyond huge (literally, terms like huge and gigantic don't describe the scale of this place), all of the structures, pipeline networks and everything was absolutely massive. The whole refinery was incredible in just how large it was.
We got to see one of the docking stations where an oil tanker was docked, the catalytic cracking unit, an incredible amount of pipelines, and the control room. The control room was where we were actually allowed to stop and get out to go inside. The control room (one of them anyway) was pretty amazing. The room was filled with hemispherical arrays of computer monitors with people stationed at them, and we actually got to meet two of the guys who were at one of these stations.
After the tour, we then went back to the main building and were greeted by the engineers who worked at the refinery, who told us their stories, gave advice, and answered questions that we had about engineering. We also were provided with a free lunch (which was nice). After the questions, everyone gathered together for a group photo and then said goodbye.
All in all it was a fun and interesting trip.