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Chemical Engineer’s Diary: How far I have grown?

About five days ago I got an email from my boss. He asked my opinion about working in this company. Honestly, I have been asking myself how far I have grown as chemical engineer who works as consultant. I found the answer was very hard. I am not quite sure I have grown a lot as chemical engineer.

I have been working in this company since November 2011, so it’s been nine months. I have involved in six projects, one pre-feasibility study project, one bankable feasibility study project, three energy audit projects, and one engineering project (make piping and instrumentation diagram mostly). Although my project is quite a lot, I think my chemical engineering knowledge improved slowly. This is regrettable, but I need will not stop to create many ideas to improve ability.I have flashed back my role as chemical engineer in several project and I have formulated several knowledge I need to master:

  • Pre-feasibility Study Project. This was the first project I involved. There was an idled plant which will be re-activated and its production capacity will be increased. To do so, we need to identify both technical and economical concern to re-activate this plant. This project was actually a very good opportunity for me to learn and refresh the basic of chemical engineering, such as mass and energy balance and knowledge about equipment. Unfortunately, this project was done by our subcontractor (both technical and economical aspect). What I do is to  make sure they do well, to expedite their works, and to summarize the results. As a chemical engineer, I wish I can handle chemical engineering things, identify the bottleneck, and also make economic evaluation of the project.
  • Bankable Feasibility Study Project. This was considered as quite huge project for me because it’s involving licensor. It’s also the first project for me which involved foreigners (actually  the project owner was foreigner). The Bankable Feasibility Study team leader was a senior chemical engineer whom I believe he has strong chemical engineering background and quite has much experiences regarding economics evaluation. I can say this project was a combination of technology review from licensor, economic evaluation from our team leader, and a small part of my role (as supporting aspect – the data was actually supplied by our main project owner). Since our chemical engineer team leader is an expert on economic evaluation, I wish I can learn more about that topic from him. About licensor, I think I need to learn the basic principle of technology selection, in other words I need to answer the basic question, “Why the licensor chose such technology?”
  • Audit energy project. Our business director believed that audit energy project is a continuous project and considered as project with so many customers. We are playing at energy audit for oil and gas industry in exploration and production. We think we need to expand our business to energy in fertilizer, cement industy, textiles, and so on. We have so many potential customers, but our manpower was so limited (both experiences and quantity). The solution was we sought for chemical engineer consultant who have quite a lot experience in energy audit. However, in the future we need to invest our money, time, and effort to build our chemical engineers who work especially in energy audit.

I can conclude that to be a real chemical engineer, you need to have these abilities:

  1. Formulate what the problem is
  2. Formulate several alternatives to solve the problems
  3. Seek for the main bottleneck of that alternatives and select which one is the best in the technical and economical point of view

And always remember what Einstein said, “Make it simple, don’t make it easy”


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