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Earlier this year, the Process Heating & Cooling Innovation Award was created to recognize the innovative application of technical expertise or experience with industrial process heating or cooling projects, or efforts to reduce costs, improve process efficiency or increase safety.

An important aspect of the award was that the winner is selected from those nominated by their peers. Though numerous entries were received, when the nomination process closed, the nominees had spoken.

The winner of our inaugural Process Heating & Cooling Innovation Award is Robert J. Ferguson of French Creek Software, Valley Forge, Pa. The award, presented at the 2022 Process Heating & Cooling Show, recognized the result of his life’s work: improving cooling water treatment.

One of the nominators, Michael Bourgeois of Chemco Products Co., put it succinctly: “Rob developed the first easily understood method for interpreting scaling indices that is widely used and accepted. He also has developed and implemented the concept of 3D graphs of operating profiles that indicate scale potential and the associated inhibitor dosage and failure points. These and many other developments have provided a countless number of water treatment companies with the information needed to formulate and deploy effective water treatment formulations.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Rob Ferguson joined editor Linda Becker to talk about:

  • How did you get started in industrial water treatment? Who were some of your mentors starting out?
  • When and why did you decide to start your own company?
  • What was the genesis of the WaterCycle software, your French Creek Software using 3D graphs to model scale potential?
  • I know you’ve mentioned that your wife Janet was an essential contributor. What was her role? How did you balance a growing family and a growing business?
  • Were there any challenges to developing the software or the company? 
  • Can you tell me a little more about the visual representation that your software creates? How is that effective, and why is that important?
  • How is the software used in process cooling and heating applications today?
  • Throughout a 40 (or so) year career, what are some of the biggest challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?
  • What are some of the things you are most proud of as it relates to French Creek Software and your long career in industrial water treatment?
  • Who’s your mentor or industry role model? Why?
  • With a career such as yours, what’s next?

Listen to the Podcast:

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As a part of the award, in Robert’s honor, a $1,000 scholarship donation was made in his name to the University of Minnesota, College of Biological Sciences, Alpha Kai Sigma Professional Chemistry Fraternity.

Meet the Winner

Robert J. Ferguson is the founder and president of French Creek Software Inc., Valley Forge, Pa., a company that developed software to aid water treatment chemists in identifying and solving scale and corrosion-related problems. The various French Creek program series address the specific needs of cooling water systems, reverses osmosis, oil field water treatment, potable water and water reuse. For more information, call 610-935-8337 or visit