Q&A with Kenneth Belteau

As a Principal Engineer at Enbridge Gas Transmission and Midstream in Houston, Texas, Ken Belteau, PE, works to ensure the company's onshore and offshore pipeline facilities are properly maintained and meet environmental and regulatory compliance requirements. Within ISA, he is regarded as one of the Society's most dedicated volunteer leaders. He currently serves as: a member of the ISA Technical Assembly, facilitator of the ISA Process Measurement and Control Division (PMCD), Vice President of ISA's Automation & Technology Department, and member of the C&E Global Oversight Committee.

Could you provide some background on your education (degree/s received) and academic areas of emphasis? 

I received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering at Louisiana State University and a master's degree in business administration at the University of Houston. I'm a Certified Energy Manager, ISA Senior Member, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Life Member. I'm also a member of the Pipeliners Association of Houston.

What initially attracted you to the field of automation (and specifically your selected field)...and when was it? Was there any specific thing that triggered your interest? 

When I graduated from college, the "hot" opportunities for electrical engineers were in the oil and gas industry and aerospace.  I received several job offers from oil companies and NASA contractors.  Fortunately, I chose oil and gas based on attractive compensation and the opportunity to work in Houston; federal funding for NASA and its contractors was drastically cut shortly after I began work and a lot of aerospace engineers had to rebrand themselves for other industries. 

I have been fortunate to enjoy a long and productive career in the energy industry.  My initial assignments were with Gulf Oil Corporation, where I worked with SCADA and measurement facilities.  My military service occurred at the U. S. Army Electronic Proving Ground in Arizona, where I had test and evaluation responsibilities for several subsystems of the OV-1D Mohawk Surveillance Aircraft.  Over the years, I was involved with projects and functions involving pipeline controls, electrical distribution, tariffs, regulations, strategic planning, building controls and operations, and project management.

I was one of the nine Texas citizens who formed the non-profit corporation, Texas Excavation Safety System (Texas 8-1-1), which operates a sophisticated automated one call center for locating and protecting underground utilities.

Please tell us about your current career responsibilities (specific position, company) and background, and area of specialty in automation. 

I'm currently Principal Engineer at Enbridge Gas Transmission and Midstream (previously Spectra Energy and Duke Energy Gas Transmission) in Houston, Texas. I focus a lot on technical operations and pipeline integrity, working with the company's abandonment team to properly dispose of unneeded onshore and offshore pipeline facilities.

My responsibilities include:  managing maintenance and construction of natural gas offshore projects; working with regulators and company personnel to ensure compliance with US Department of Transportation integrity management programs, Department of the Interior programs, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements; and developing and administering capital budget program for offshore areas.

I'm also experienced in financial and strategic planning, product testing, operations supervision, engineering management, and design engineering.  

How did you initially get involved in ISA? 

Because of my employment in the pipeline industry, I initially became involved with ISA through Houston's Pipeline Subsection.  I became aware of the subsection's programs when my daughter applied for and received one of the subsection's college scholarships.  I continue to be involved in the Society because of its relevance to the automation profession at many levels and the satisfaction I get from participating in its successes.

Please explain your current level/degree of involvement in ISA (leader positions, section involvement, etc.). Any info/detail on your role as section president or other levels of involvement would be great. 

I currently serve ISA as: a member of the ISA Technical Assembly, facilitator of the ISA Process Measurement and Control Division (PMCD), Vice President of ISA's Automation & Technology Department, and member of the C&E Global Oversight Committee. I'm a former President of the ISA Houston Section, a former General Chair of the ISA Pipeline Section, former Director of the PMCD, and former member of the Honors & Awards Committee.

It's been announced that you will be officially honored by ISA at its annual ISA Honors & Awards Gala in October for Excellence in Enduring Service. What can you say about this award and what it means to you?

I'm very honored to be considered for this award and appreciate the effort that my friends and leaders in the Society exerted to secure my nomination.  My service has been enduring because I've had excellent professionals to work with in the Society.

What ways would you say ISA has benefited you?

I've greatly benefited through the opportunity to serve the Society in a number of leadership positions and with increasing levels of responsibility. I have learned valuable lessons about working with people that I've applied in the workplace and in other areas of my life.

Do you have any advice or suggestions to young automation professionals entering the profession? Are there things that you have learned that you might pass on…to help them better develop their careers?

I have three suggestions to young automation professionals: (1) Make the move to join ISA and participate in your local section and the technical divisions relating to your career interests and goals; (2) Seek leadership roles to enhance your involvement and ability to network with valuable contacts; and (3) Accept and concentrate on only one leadership role at a time to maximize your effectiveness and avoid burn-out.