Thursday, December 11, 2014

Be An Expert in At Least One Chemical Engineering Area

If you read this article, chances are you are a chemical engineering student or already graduated as a chemical engineer sometime ago. Congratulations!!! 
Being a chemical engineer, there are plenty of job offers from various fields and industry. A chemical engineer can be in the oil and gas, biotechnology, oil and gas, polymer, plantations, educations, services, manufacturing, moulding, computer and others. The list are too long to be listed here.
Nevertheless, a chemical engineer who has additional strength of
expertise in something is of higher demand. When I was doing my first
degree, I still recall a course called chemical engineering with process control. It was a course offered for chemical engineering students like me. However, I did not take it because at that time I fear I cannot cope with my core chemical engineering studies. One friend of mine has the guts to take the course and he managed to get that Chemical Engineering with Process Control degree. Among the additional subjects covered in that course are advance process control and artificial intelligent. Well, that is already in the past. 
Powder Technology Expert
Fig. 1 Powder technology is crucial in various industries
During my final year as a chemical engineering student in Bradford University, I was with my final year design project group member, meeting up with our supervisor, Prof. Dr. N. Harnby.
Our final year design project topic was "Alumina from Bouxite". The
alumina is processed into fine powders from a chunk of bauxite solids.
Prof. Harnby is an expert in Powder Technology. During one of our
consultation session, Prof Harnby received a call from a plant somewhere
in Scotland and asked for his advice on powder processing problem
occurring in the plant. Prof Harnby then provided a
solution in the phone but then said if you require detailed and expert
solution, he will do it. He was actually providing his consultancy
service on powder technology solution since he is an expert in a such a
specific technology.
Corrosion Monitoring Expert
Fig. 2 Example of ER Probe 
Few years after that, I was working as a chemical cum project engineer with a local oil and gas servicing company. That time, we were awarded a project to protect an oil company pipeline from corrosion
(from upstream to downstream). Luckily, the company I was working for
has a very good principal from United States or Canada (I forgot the
exact country it was from) who is an expert in corrosion monitoring. Do you know that corrosion
is a huge problem in the oil and gas field? It has plenty of
structures, pipeline and vessels made my steel that are always attacked
by corrosion. The situation in offshore platform is more worse. Due to the importance of corrosion protection and impact to the industry, NACE (National Association of Corrosion Engineers) was formed in 1943 to facilitate information, services, knowledge and
standards related to corrosion. 
Back to my story above. Our principal company sent a young engineer
(younger than me, that time I was 26 years old) to assist the
installation of ER Probe.
I think the engineer was just about 23 or 24 years old. But he was
trained really well to do the presentation, installation and service of
the ER Probe on the 48" and 10" pipelines. He taught us well and know
all the specific details of on how to install,
operate and maintain the ER Probe. He also thought us on how to analyze
the ER probe readings and interpret them. Since I was the engineer
incharge, I was involve with the costing of the project. I also know the
fee of the young engineer which is relatively high and being paid per
day for his service. The young engineers fee for 3 days alone has
exceeded my monthly salary. That time, I whispered to myself, wow...this
is the price we have to pay for an expert. The young engineer just had a
diploma in engineering and went for a specific training on various technology on corrosion monitoring and corrosion protection. That is just an example of a story that we can learn if we want to be an expert in certain engineering area.

Chemical Health Risk Assessment (CHRA) Expert

Let me show the 3rd example. You can also be a Chemical Health Risk Assessment (CHRA)
expert. For certain countries this is a requirement for any refinery or
plant. This is to ensure the workers in the refinery or plant can work
safely despite the various hazards in the workplace. A CHRA consultant
service is demanded to provide training, consultancy, audit and perhaps
more than that. The fee for a CHRA expert is quite high as well.
However, before being a CHRA expert or consultant, you need to undergo
specific training so that you are have sufficient knowledge and experience and reliable to help the clients.
The Choice is Yours
I have outlined 3 examples of a specific area you can choose to be an expert within your chemical
engineering field. There are more of expert areas you can choose from.
You can look around, browse the internet or ask your lecturers or
experience engineers. Assess the field that you want to be an expert and
get the required training.

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