I found the course very challenging, which is exactly what I wanted. Having access to good laboratory facilities, including the Morton Laboratory was great and made for excellent learning.
What route have you taken to get to your current position?
I did an industrial placement while at Manchester with Lucite International Darwen, Lancashire. Not only was this a great insight into the commercial world of chemical engineering but it also gave me a huge amount to talk about during my graduate interviews.
I took a graduate engineer position with Atkins in their Safety and Reliability team. I had intended on taking a more process-related role but with graduate jobs few and far between in 2009 so I decided to take it. After a few months I knew that I definitely wanted to fulfil a process engineering role and after trying, unsuccessfully, to move internally I decided to look elsewhere. I secured a graduate process engineer position with WorleyParsons in May 2010 and started in September 2010. I am still with WorleyParsons and was promoted to a Process Engineer position in July 2011.
What does this position involve?
My work at WorleyParsons is project-based and I have fulfilled a number of roles on a number of projects. I am currently working on a relief systems project whereby we are contracted to assess the suitability of upstream assets’ relief and disposal systems. This involves pressure relief valve sizing, hydraulic line pressure drop assessment, radiation and dispersion assessments and blowdown studies to name but a few.
As well as rating installed assets, as I am now, my position involves working on new designs; designing and sizing equipment for upstream crude oil processing facilities, conceptual and feasibility studies for early stage projects and proprietary work on WorleyParsons sulphur technology licensing products.
What do you most enjoy about your current role?
I most enjoy working on process engineering problems that require use and understanding of the core skills I first learnt at Manchester. I work with highly skilled process engineers and am furthering my development on a daily basis. I am currently working in a client integrated team which provides me with great client interaction plus I am privy to their wealth of process engineering experiences and knowledge. These factors, combined with working to current design standards make work very enjoyable.
What did you most enjoy about your course?
There were many things I enjoyed about studying chemical engineering at Manchester. I found the course very challenging, which is exactly what I wanted. The module content was broad and covered all core chemical engineering subjects. The lecturers were friendly and approachable and had time to answer my questions - of which there were a lot! Having access to good laboratory facilities, including the Morton Laboratory was great and made for excellent learning.
What skills/knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
Even though it was not my best scoring module, Sound Thermodynamic Understanding is of great use in my work. Especially when deciphering complex process simulation and assessing complex relief situations. If there is something that strains my grey matter a bit too much I always dig out my notes as a starting point!
What advice would you give to students applying for the same programme that you took?
Chemical engineering is a great programme if you have an interest in maths and science and if you would like to have a career where these interests are present. Chemical engineering is highly vocational which, I believe, is essential for helping develop a career path. It allows entry into a number of areas, such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals or water to name but a few. This allows students to make decisions about their career path as they develop their engineering skills at a university where good career advice is also available.
Chemical engineering is a proper full-time course. I found it beneficial to treat it like a full-time job and go it to university 9am-5pm during weekdays. That way I was, mostly, able to stay on top of study notes and coursework. But there were times where more was required – such as revision time and design project hand in.
Spending so much time with your peers means that that you will get to know them well over the years. The chemical engineering bunch is a friendly lot and social events are frequent and fun. There are always opportunities to get involved in the organisation of socials and other activities such as industrial visits, as I did, with the chemical engineering society.