In a black and while photograph standing near one of the first-ever radio towers — is R.J. Bangay. The photo serves as an inspiration for his great grandson and Syncrude’s new General Manager of Research and Development, Mal Carroll.
“My great grandfather was involved in the development, testing and design of ground-to-air radio sets, a technology that changed the face of the planet,” Mal says. “He wound up working for The Marconi Company.” Founded by world-renowned inventor Guglielmo Marconi proved long-distance transmission of radio signals was possible.
He did this work for 57 years, which is incredible. Like him, I’m very passionate about technology. The environment we create in R&D is critical for this department to develop game-changing technologies. Our people need to be empowered to be creative, innovative and see their ideas through to implementation.
Mal’s own career is rooted in R&D, joining Syncrude in 1994 as a research engineer on the Materials and Equipment team. Twenty two years later, he can still list all his early projects, which involved technical support for Syncrude’s operation.
After five years at Research, he moved to Fort McMurray on the first of what turned into a number of assignments over the next 17 years in different areas of the organization.
“While my roots are in the technical side of our business where I started my career, I spent much of that time on site understanding the challenges and the responsibility we have running a business,” says Mal. “We must identify technologies that improve our reliability, efficiency and environmental performance and have solid plans in place to implement them.”
Mal is confident Syncrude Research and Development will continue to find solutions to challenges that face the industry.
“We have the right team and the right relationships to leverage our research with universities, government agencies, NGOs and industry consortiums such as the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance,” Mal says. “We have a tremendous depth and breadth of knowledge; Research and Development has always been a strong value at Syncrude.”
Mal sees parallels between what his great grandfather faced more than 120 years ago and Syncrude researchers today.
“We need to practice good science. That’s how technologies that make real change get created, whether it was in my great-grandfather’s day or today. Because if we do that, we will fulfill our mission to improve reliability and process performance, develop sustainable and cost-effective tailings, advance water and reclamation management, and develop next-generation technology.”