Bechtel Fellows

David Messersmith, Liquefaction and Gas Processing


David has more than 30 years of experience in process and systems engineering, including a quarter-century focused exclusively on liquefied natural gas (LNG). He is considered one of the world's leading technical experts in liquefaction and gas processing.

Get to Know David

What is the most exciting or challenging project you were involved in, and what was your role?

The Atlantic LNG initial train was a challenge in many ways. It was the first application of the new LNG venture with Phillips, which started a relationship that has lasted more than two decades. We set a high hurdle to drive the cost of an LNG facility 20 percent lower than the industry benchmark and then offer it at a fixed cost and faster than had been done in recent history. The risks we faced were many and quite often not recognized today in our risk-averse mentality. It made the eventual accomplishment of producing LNG in March 1999 and turning the plant over to the owner less than three months later that much more exciting and rewarding.

What is the best career advice that you’ve received?

I believe my dad offered me the key advice to find something that I enjoy and then do it to my best ability. It works not only for career advice, but also for life advice. I have heard it many times over the years from other sources, and I have also passed it on to my children.

What do you see as the key skills that new engineers need to have in the global job market?

I think even more important than the technical skills they acquire in school are the personal relationship skills they learn with life and work. For technical skills, I would want to see an understanding of the basics behind design concepts so that they are not so dependent on simulations and design software application.

What leadership skills do you think are needed to be a great engineer?

To be a great engineer, it is important to relate to others for both input of information and output of results. We are all simply a conduit of information. What we do with it for others is what is important.