Alumni Spotlight: Jake Hightower

Jake Hightower graduated from UGA in 2013 with a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering with an emphasis in Mechanical Systems.  He went on to receive his M.S. in Petroleum Engineering in 2015 from the University of Texas.  Jake is currently a Petroleum Engineer in the Midcontinent Business Unit at Chevron North America Exploration and Production.  His wife, CC Hightower, also graduated from UGA in 2012 with a B.A.J. in Public Relations.  

Why did you choose to attend UGA?

I chose to attend UGA for three reasons: beautiful campus, beautiful girls and great football. Additionally, I started college with the intention of going pre-med since I come from a family of physicians and UGA is known for their sciences. After spending the summer post freshman year working in a hospital, I realized that I was not passionate about medicine and decided change my major to engineering.

What are your best UGA memories?

My best UGA memories are centered around Saturdays in Athens during football season. Words cannot describe the feeling of watching the Bulldogs take the field while you are cheering alongside some of your best friends.

What activities were you involved in at UGA?

My main activity outside of engineering was being a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Through the fraternity I had the opportunity to give back to the community through volunteering, partake in UGA Miracle and mentor younger brothers in Sig Ep.

What do you remember most about your time as an engineering student at UGA?

Late nights in Driftmier and dinner from the vending machine during finals.

Who were some of your favorite engineering professors?

I had many great engineering professors throughout my years at UGA. Dr. Ron McClendon was the first engineering professor that taught me the thought process required of an engineer. He taught us how to look a problem and outline the inputs/knowns and apply scientific principles to lead us to a solution rather falling pray to jumping to a quick, and often wrong, conclusion.  Another favorite is Dr. Sid Thompson because he taught us how to think quickly on our feet while calling on individuals during his 8am strength of materials class. He pushed us to our limits and thickened our skin while students strived to earn his respect.

Dr. Gattie is a favorite professor often named in other alumni spotlights and there is no exception in my opinion. Not only does Dr. Gattie have a tremendous passion for teaching but he truly cares about the success of every single student. He has a fascination with the energy industry, which is how we made our connection. I spent many of my summers working in the Texas oilfield and learning about an industry which has a global impact. Dr. Gattie and I spent many hours discussing the energy industry and his practical examination of oil and gas exploration and utility power generation. He approaches challenges the same way he teaches his students: to roll up their sleeves and tackle a problem while having the confidence to stand behind their convictions. The best thing about Dr. Gattie is that his love of faith and family is contagious and he carries himself as a true role model for all students.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

The absolute best part about my job is the sense of fulfillment by exploring for and producing a product that brings energy to people across the world. In recent years the tides have turned in the oil and gas industry and as a country we have the capability to supply the nation with a reliable and clean source of energy. In addition to exploring for this resource, my favorite part about the job is meeting the people we work with in the oil and gas industry. Whether it be on an international assignment and learning new cultures, or working in the West Texas oilfield and meeting the people who are as “good as gold” and are the fabric of this country. Our industry provides thousands of jobs across America for good, hard-working individuals to provide for their families.

How has your UGA Engineering degree influenced your career?

The most valuable attribute of a degree holder from the University of Georgia College of Engineering is the ability to combine the technical aspects of engineering with the real world operations of design implementation. Just because something works on paper or in a computer model, there is no guarantee it will actually work in physical operations. My UGA engineering degree taught me to look at the big picture and be a well-rounded engineer to make decisions which provide value for Chevron.