March 12, 2012

Professional of The Week: A Chemical Engineer

This week , we’re featuring a Chemical Engineer as the "Professional of The Week”. It was yet another enlightening interview and I encourage every professional or budding professional out there to read on.

Name: Fred A.
Location: Lagos
Profession: Chemical Engineer

1. Why did you choose Chemical Engineering as your profession?
I got interested in a Career in the Engineering field because I was science inclined as I child. Also, I enjoyed subjects like Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Physics. I would have taken medicine but I can’t stand the sight of blood.
While in Secondary School, SS2, I had a discussion with a senior and this helped me single out Chemical Engineering as my dream profession.
I choose Chemical Engineering because of its relevance and application in a lot of industries. You can work almost anywhere, Oil & Gas , Petrochemical, Pharmaceutical & Health, Agriculture etc

2. What is the best thing about your profession?
The exposure I get to technologies and changes thereof. I work with the Department of Petroleum Resources, (DPR) and as a regulator, I am at the centre of the activities in the Nigerian oil & gas industry. I play a midfield role. So, if for instance any of the multinationals come up with a new technology, I get to know about it. I won’t be able to do my job if I do not have the knowledge of the technologies that are in use at the moment. Thus, I get exposed to new technologies and happenings in the industry.

3. What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Basically, I review engineering designs, monitor project execution to enforce compliance with national and international regulations. Examples of designs I review include ‘conceptual design’, ‘front end engineering design’, ‘detailed engineering  design’. These designs are normally sent in for approval and I review such request. I do my reviews against a checklist to ensure that the request is in agreement with our regulations. I check the processes and equipments – for instance I may check a processes that involves taking gas from one point to another; I may check the equipments needed for such a process are available and in that the designs are acceptable.

4. What qualifications are you working towards?
I possess a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering. I always had a plan to branch out and start my own business hence I’ve not fully followed up on a course to build my professional qualifications in the field. If I was to continue in Chemical Engineering, the next step will be to gain a  masters (M.Sc) in Process Engineering.

5. What advice will you give someone interested in Chemical Engineering as a profession?
I believe it is a profession you have to pursue with all your guts. Chemical Engineering makes you think; you develop your analytical skills in the process.  Hence, if ever you want to branch out to something else the possibility of you succeeding is higher because you have a good thought process and well developed analytical skill to guide your decisions.
I will advise any one interested in the profession to read a lot – thermodynamics, processes and control, instrumentation and control. It is important to remain relevant and informed and this can be achieved through reading.

6. What skills will you advise current and aspiring students of Chemical Engineering to acquire/develop?
 To be vital in the field, you need to have very good analytical skills. Also a good knowledge of engineering processes is important to be able to make judgement. Your knowledge of the subject will act as a guide.
You also have to read always because the regulations change. You need to keep abreast with current happenings. If for instance a company brings a design for approval, your lack of knowledge may make you tell them that their design is wrong or unsuitable when they are indeed right because they are already ahead of you with technology. As I said earlier on you have to remain informed to be relevant in the field.

7. Is it a barrier if your degree is not Chemical Engineering?
Yes it is a barrier. Your deficiency will show because you will not think like a chemical engineer. We (Chemical Engineers) think holistically. A geologist for instance will think mainly of how to bring oil out of the ground but a chemical engineer thinks of everything, from bringing it out of the ground, to making it better for consumers, then taking it to the consumers as well as taking care of the residue.

8. Do you have any other interest you pursue apart from your profession as a Chemical Engineer?
Mainly watching football. I have a very tight schedule and time off work is used to relax and mainly check on my other business interests.


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