Lucian “Sonny” Johnston (’79)
“CBC was an atmosphere which encouraged and gave us the freedom to explore and innovate beyond a normal structured educational environment. The Mechanical Engineering program was intensive, which taught us perseverance as well as providing an education.”
Lucian “Sonny” Johnston earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Christian Brothers College in 1979. Looking back, he now has a confession to make regarding his student days. “I will finally confirm that my roommates and I built a concealed air conditioning system in our dorm room in Maurelian Hall,” he confesses. “In case no one remembers, there were no dorm rooms with AC in those days! I appreciate Brother Dominic Dunn (who was Dean of Men and also lived in Maurelian) for knowing we had one but not making us show him where the pieces were. Allowing us to continue the usage was his way of encouraging our innovation and creativity.”
Sonny continued his education and earned a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Technology University in 1983. He started his career with Schlumberger, an international technology company that services the global energy industry, in 1981 as a Wireline Field Engineer in southern Louisiana. Over a 39-year career with Schlumberger, he served in various technical, marketing, and management positions in engineering and operations, including Operations Manager, Chief Borehole Geophysicist, Global Petrotechnical Manager, VP Data Services, and Engineering Director. He spent ten years in operations and marketing management based in Venezuela and Colombia, covering Central and South America. He retired from Schlumberger in June 2020.
During his career, Sonny was awarded over 15 United States patents pertaining to oil well construction, formation evaluation-geophysics, and digital technology. He also earned various Schlumberger awards for inventions and innovations, including an engineering project he managed which won the 2021 Offshore Technology Conference Spotlight on New Technology award.
Having spent the last decade of his career at Schlumberger in the Houston area, Sonny retired in Sugar Land, TX, and joined the Schlumberger Employees Credit Union Board, where he has served on the Marketing, Audit, Risk, Finance, and Technology Committees. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the board and Chair of the Audit Committee.
Sonny and his son Hale also established The Wood Calling, a woodworking business to indulge their shared joy in creating with wood. The Wood Calling also provides Hale, a young adult with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), the opportunity to have a career, design wood products and signs, and sell them — thus providing him with a work ethic and sense of accomplishment.
Sonny also serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations supporting individuals with IDD, including the vice presidency of the Board of Directors of Brazos Bend Guardianship Services, which provides guardianship services and money management for those who are incapacitated and/or disabled, as well as guardianship education. He also serves on the board of the Dream League, a First Colony Little League Challenger Division baseball league that provides a chance for those with IDD to enjoy playing baseball. Returning to the fields in 2022, the league had over 110 players on eight teams.
Sonny also volunteers his time to The Arc of Fort Bend County and The Arc’s Special Olympics teams, where he provides coaching assistance and his photography skills to The Arc and Special Olympics. Combining his love for baseball and photography, he is also a volunteer photographer for the Houston Astros’ AAA baseball team, the Space Cowboys.
I learned at CBC that working together with various people — and respecting their different viewpoints to solve problems — produces the best solutions. We were taught to think; not just turn a crank. I always thought of Dr. Brown’s “Invisible Robot Award” when it came time for project planning, and Dr. Straight’s “baseball toss” from Basic Dynamics always comes to mind when making assumptions.