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Bob DeHart, '72

Bob DeHart Alumni of the Year Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering

Robert E. “Bob” DeHart II was born June 28, 1950, in Princeton, West Virginia. Bob’s parents, Robert and Juanita DeHart, were from small farms in southwest Virginia. After serving in the US Army Air Forces in the Pacific in WWII, Bob’s father began work as a lineman for Appalachian Power, based in Bluefield, Virginia. In the fall of 1956, his father was transferred to a line crew in Charleston and his parents purchased a home in St. Albans. As a child (the oldest boy of five sons with two older sisters), Bob often told his parents he wanted to attend West Point and that he wanted to become an engineer. Bob’s parents – neither of whom had the opportunity to attend college – stressed “church, family, community, education” to all seven children. School was always serious business to the DeHart family. While attending junior high and high school in St. Albans, Bob was a paper boy with morning and evening routes for the Charleston Gazette and Charleston Daily Mail. He also worked part time at a St. Albans drug store. During this time, Bob also achieved the Eagle Scout Award, the God & Country award and the Order of the Arrow from the Boy Scouts of America. 

Bob enrolled at WVU Tech in August 1968, and initially thought he would study civil engineering.  After working for Appalachian Power in the summer of 1969, he opted to switch to electrical engineering. He was placed on an academic scholarship at Tech and participated in the Work Study program. Bob graduated cum laude with a BSEE in August 1972 and was a charter member of WV Beta of Tau Beta Pi. In fact, Bob was the Secretary Treasurer of the local chapter when, in the fall of 1971, he attended the Tau Beta Pi National Convention in Knoxville, Tennessee with Dr. Mellon and Dr. Blackwell as part of the application process. In January 1972, Tau Beta Pi officials came to Montgomery to grant the WV-Beta charter to Tech. 

In the fall of 1972, Bob began his career with Tennessee Valley Authority in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as an electrical engineer on the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant. In the spring of 1973, the Army made another call and career change, this time for a civilian engineering position that enabled Bob to obtain his Masters of Engineering in Industrial Engineering (MEIE) degree from Texas A&M University in May 1975. Bob didn’t attain his goal of attending the Army’s military academy, but he made his parents very proud by becoming an engineer. 

Bob worked as a System Safety Engineer for the Department of Army at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia from 1975 to 1977 and the Air Force Logistics Command at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio from 1977 to 1979. He then returned to the Kanawha Valley in 1979 to work for Union Carbide at the company’s Technical Center. Over the next ten years, he worked in various safety and loss prevention engineering positions for Carbide, eventually becoming a Principal Engineer at the Tech Center and a Safety Risk Manager at Carbide’s Danbury, Connecticut world headquarters.

In 1989, Bob accepted a position with Mobil Oil’s International Marketing and Refining Division as a Senior EHS (Environmental, Health and Safety) Advisor, providing EHS services to Mobil’s global downstream oil and gas operations. Then, in 1996, Bob began working as an ex-patriate EHS Manager in Equatorial Guinea, West Africa on a startup offshore operation.        

From Equatorial Guinea, Bob was seconded from Mobil to Qatargas LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) in Ras Laffan, Qatar in the position of EHS Manager at this world class LNG operation (presently the largest in the world). This began nearly 20 years of various Middle East assignments on world-class energy projects. Over this period, Bob consistently demonstrated his technical and management skills on these mega energy projects, daily interacting with people from over 50 nationalities who spoke over 25 languages. His 30 years of International EHS experience has expanded his views, understanding and, most importantly, his appreciation of various cultures and societies.

On these various jobs, a primary activity was serving as the Management Representative to Senior Management to develop, implement and manage a comprehensive EHS Management System. In 2000, this resulted in Qatar gas becoming the first LNG company in the world to obtain ISO 9000 and 14000 accreditation in Quality and Environmental certification. Aligned with US EPA requirements, Bob also worked with authorities in Qatar to implement the new environmental and consent to operate requirements. He led efforts to develop the first Industrial Mutual Aid and Environment Association organizations in Qatar, with initial efforts directed at Community Emergency Response and Outreach, which was promoted through the issuance of English/Arabic brochures on important EHS issues. In 2000, he initiated efforts to establish a National Park System in Qatar, working with local authorities, and the U.S. National Park Service. This effort resulted in the completion of a Feasibility Study in 2000, and a follow-on study for establishment of the first designated National Park in 2002. He also served as Exercise Director for a major oil spill exercise in 1996 in Hurghada, Egypt involving senior government officials and dignitaries, including the U.S. Ambassador and the Red Sea Governor. Bob presented his work at the 1997 International Oil Spill Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

His final Qatari effort, the RasGas Barzan onshore project, which lasted from 2011 to 2016, saw 278 million man-hours with only nine Lost Time Incidents, none of them serious or life threatening. This was a remarkable accomplishment for a project that consisted of a workforce of 31,000 at peak construction. The project received numerous safety and environmental accolades, and three international papers were presented citing the project’s EHS accomplishments.

Bob received his Professional Engineer licenses from Ohio in 1979, West Virginia in 1980, North Carolina in 2004 and Certified Safety Professional in Engineering Aspects in 1979. Bob was a Director on the Board of Certified Safety Professionals from 1982 to 1988 and served as president in 1986. Mid-way through his career, he honed his professional skills further by meeting the requirements for a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) and Board-Certified Environmental Engineering (BCEE). Bob now serves as Director to the Board of Global Credentialing, which provides credentialing examination requirements for persons aspiring to become CIHs and QEPs.

He has also been involved in other professional activities, serving as a Risk Assessment Subcommittee member to the American lnstitute of Chemical Engineers’ Center for Chemical Process Safety from 1986 to 1993. Between 1987 and 1993, he worked on the Subcommittee that developed and published CCPS books on Quantitative Risk Analysis, Decision Making and Transportation Risk Analyses guidelines that have become de-facto industry and government standards.

Bob and his wife retired in the fall of 2016 and relocated to Boone, North Carolina. In 2016, they established an academic scholarship at WVU Tech for lower-income West Virginians in the College of Engineering. Bob and his wife are active in their church, Samaritan’s Purse, and the local Old Hickory Boy Scout council. Bob has been an active member of the WVU Tech alumni association since the early 1990s.