Oilfield Innovator Bruce Thompson to Be Awarded Honorary WT Doctorate


CANYON, Texas — A farmer-turned-engineering pioneer will receive one of West Texas A&M University’s highest honors at the May 13 commencement ceremonies.

Bruce Thompson will be presented with an honorary Ph.D. in engineering from WT’s College of Engineering.

Thompson will be honored at the 6 p.m. commencement ceremony in the First United Bank Center, located at the intersection of Russell Long Boulevard and Fourth Avenue on the east end of WT’s Canyon campus.

Honorary degrees offer the University opportunity to recognize excellence in the fields of public affairs, the sciences, humanities and the arts, scholarship and education, business and philanthropy and social services with significant and lasting contributions to community.

“‘Dr. Thompson’ is going to take some getting used to,” Thompson said. “I’ll probably still be Bruce. I hardly know what to think about this. It is an honor, and I am honored, really.”

Thompson earned his bachelor’s in industrial arts from WT in 1965, before the University had established an engineering program, much less the College of Engineering.

After more than 40 years as a farmer and rancher in Hartley, Thompson moved to Granbury to pursue work in the oil field during the boom of the early 2000s. He invented Sand X, an environmentally friendly process that separates oil from sand during fracking, which reduces danger for oilfield workers and saves companies millions of dollars while removing hydrocarbons and chlorides from sand.

Thompson also invented the Super Loop, which reduces virtually all emissions of hazardous gases on well sites, and the Sand L, which evenly and safely dispenses of Sand X-filtered sand.

His Sand L team won the 2017 World Oil Award for Best Health, Safety, Environment/Sustainable Development — Onshore, and other inventions also have been recognized by the industry.

Thompson was named a WT Distinguished Alumnus in 2021.

“Dr. Thompson has repeatedly demonstrated engineering problem solving combined with an appreciation for humanity,” said Dr. Emily Hunt, dean of WT’s College of Engineering. “Through his ingenuity, he has attained prominence through his efforts in commerce, industry, technology and agriculture, which form a record of accomplishment impressive to the citizens of West Texas, Texas and the nation.”

“The dedication Thompson provides to the fracking and service industry is inspiring,” said WT President Walter V. Wendler. “He demonstrates a true West Texas spirit. His work and patented inventions have truly contributed to a more environmentally friendly world.”

In addition to the College of Engineering, the 6 p.m. May 13 commencement ceremonies will include students from the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business. The 10 a.m. ceremony will honor students from the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences and the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences. The 2 p.m. ceremony will honor students from the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Thompson’s life and career reflect the regional values to which WT aspires, as laid out in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.