COM Process Technology Program Grad Receives Promotion

Posted on: April 19, 2011

COM PTEC graduate, Erik Montemayor, was promoted to the position of Asset Coordinator for the 500 and 600 Sections of the Residual Hydrotreating Unit at BP's Texas City Refinery.

One of the first students to go through the Associate of Applied Science Process Technology Program at College of the Mainland has quickly ascended the career ladder. Erik Montemayor has accepted the position of Asset Coordinator for the 500 and 600 Sections of the Residual Hydrotreating Unit (RHU,) a critical asset at BP's Texas City Refinery.

It has taken Montemayor 16 years of hard work to get where he is today. Bill Raley, Dean of Industrial/Technical Programs, said he was very happy to learn that one of the first students of the COM program has risen up the ranks and has become one of the Refinery’s most valuable assets.

Montemayor saw a great opportunity in his new position because the RHU distinguishes the facility from most other refineries in the world.  Montemayor's unit takes very heavy, bottom of the barrel crude oil and converts it into valuable transportation fuels.

Since there are are only a handful of RHUs in the refining business worldwide, BP Texas City's ability to use its RHU to convert otherwise unsellable products into valuable commodities is a tremendous advantage to the site and the company.

Early days

Montemayor grew up in Santa Fe where he graduated from high school in 1993.  While working at Amoco as a "red hat," or temporary worker, he began taking basic classes at College of the Mainland.  Soon after beginning work, a meeting was called for all temporary workers to see who would be interested in enrolling in a new program being developed in Process Technology. Montemayor and a few others were quick to sign up for the new program.

"Dennis Link at Amoco, now BP, got me my start with PTEC. I grew up with his kids and he played a big part with getting me a scholarship through Amoco to pay for books and the PTEC program," explained Montemayor.


Montemayor enjoyed the PTEC courses and learned as much as he could about process technology.  The course that stood out for him was trouble-shooting. "Learning material balance is important, if you have so much flow coming in you have to have so much coming out somewhere—always use all your senses you have as a human being, use them all to help trouble shoot and be aware of what is going on at all times," said Montemayor.

The program teaches students to understand chemical processing, from the instrumentation and pumps to the extracting and refining of chemicals. The degree takes 69 hours of course work to complete.

Getting a job

Soon after Montemayor finished the PTEC program, he went to apply at the Amoco Westlake facility where there was a huge line of people that wrapped around the room.  He was surprised by the number of people applying for jobs.  Yet Montemayor was confident in what he had been taught, and he took the tests and did the best he could.  He got the phone call that he was selected for a job.

Montemayor’s advice to others, "most important thing would to be learn the basics of mechanical operations. Keep putting your name out there, taking the tests and you'll get selected."

Giving Back

Montemayor would love to give back to the program that has given him such a great career. "PTEC gave me the basic skills and it allowed me to get my foot in the door. They helped me find that job opportunity I needed. When I went to that job interview I was able to know the basic knowledge of operations but I just didn't have the experience coming right out of school. It opened the door for me, it really did," said Montemayor.

The program gave him the knowledge needed to get a good paying job. "Erik helped pave the wave of success for hundreds of PTEC graduates who came behind him through his passion for learning, extraordinary work ethic and personal drive to be the best he can be at all times. There is nothing more special than being involved in something like this that has made such a difference in people's lives," said Dennis Link.


Many building materials, jet fuel, metals, and plastics - are products of process technology. Process technology involves every aspect of chemical processing; extracting valuable commodities such as oil and natural gas, refining them, and carefully monitoring the process that makes it happen. Special instrumentation, pumps, turbines, and compressors are designed to monitor and separate the chemicals that make up countless products we use everyday.

Process technology spans many industries. Power plants depend on it to maximize output and minimize emissions. Waste- and water-treatment plants use it to monitor industrial waste, environmental impact, and human health and safety. In the pharmaceutical industry, it's even used to develop the coating on aspirin.

COM closely partners with the local industry to insure the right competencies are being taught in the classroom. College of the Mainland PTEC program has the highest placement rate after graduation of all the PTEC programs in Texas.  "Experience is a great thing but experience and education will put you on the fast track," said Raley. For more information, on the PTEC program, call 409-933-8536 or

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