For many people, the line between science and religion is as distinct as the difference between night and day. Not so for TOYM honoree Roger Billings!
“Many of my most interesting mental experiments have come as results of things I have read and pondered in the scriptures, things the prophets have said. I consider that my religion has given me real scientific insight toward true principles which are the laws of the universe,” says Billings.
Both religion and science play important roles in Billings’ life as president and chairman of Billings Energy Corporation. “I find as I pursue my religious studies, as I pursue my scientific studies, they lead me toward the same conclusions,” he says. He characterizes both as a quest for truth.
Billings became interested in science at an early age. As a ninth grade student in a science class in Provo, Utah, he became enthused about the idea of using hydrogen as fuel. “The idea of burning hydrogen—creating energy and powering a car while producing water—was very intriguing to me. The idea of a pollution-free automobile was really kind of exciting. The idea of a fuel system that could be renewable— you split water to make hydrogen and you burn the hydrogen and get the same amount of water back— that whole concept was very beautiful,” he says.
Billings set to work on the problem. He was just 18 years-old when he successfully converted an old Model A truck to hydrogen power. His work in hydrogen fuel technology has since earned him seven patents and numerous awards.
The progress and the awards might not have come if Billings had not started his own company on a shoe-string budget of S400 after completing his work at Brigham Young University.
“Large political organizations—mainly governments, but also to a certain degree large industries—stymie creativity. If I had gone to work for the U.S. Department of Energy, or for that matter, for a large petroleum company, the ideas that we are now able to show are good ideas with regards to hydrogen energy would have never been nurtured,” he says.
“One of my life goals is to create an environment where (scientifically creative) people can come out of college and not be so structured, but can develop freely and achieve some great things for tomorrow … There’s a little of it in the university environment now, but even there they don’t have the resources to get their good ideas over the hump into reality,” he says.
There are other, more personal dreams he is still pursuing too. “I consider myself a very happy person, I really enjoy every day, I enjoy life fully,” he says. “I would hope that if I can have any impact in the way of an example for my fellow man that it might be in that area. That someone might look at me and learn some of the secrets of the universe that relate to personal happiness. That I might motivate his life to be just a little bit different, just a little bit happier. If that were done I would consider myself to be very successful.”
Despite the success he has enjoyed in his career, Billings believes that he is still in a state of trying to accomplish. “I haven’t stopped many imports of foreign oil just yet and haven’t cleaned up the pollution in very many cities. But I’m still pursuing a dream …”
Billings, 32, his wife, Tonja, and five daughters have recently moved to Independence, Missouri. Billings is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers as well as of Rotary International. He has earned recognition as Western Region Winner of the Ford Future Scientist of America, as Mr. Free Enterprise from the Provo chapter of Sertoma International and as the Provo Jay-cees’ Outstanding Young Man of the Year. He has also been a Gold and Silver Medal Award winner at the International Science Fair, and has earned a citation for outstanding work in electronics from the U.S. Air Force as well as a Certificate of Achievement from the U.S. Army.