Case study

Production engineer — Sameen Barabhuiya

Sameen studied for an MEng in Chemical Engineering at the University of Nottingham. Find out how he got his production engineer job at Dow Chemical

How did you get your job?

I applied to a job advert for a gradate chemical engineer position at Dow Chemical on Indeed. I submitted an online application form, with CV and cover letter. I then had a telephone interview with a member of the HR team, followed by an assessment day consisting of several interviews and a technical chemical engineering test.

Prior to this I completed a year-long internship in the nuclear industry at Sellafield Ltd as an onsite process engineer. This helped greatly in securing my role at Dow following graduation.

What's a typical day like as a production engineer?

As a production engineer, I am directly involved with the running and improvement of my assigned process units. Day-to-day this means monitoring the performance of the plants and responding to any significant process deviations. This may lead to helping troubleshoot issues with plant operators to minimise production downtime.

In addition, I work on continuous improvement projects to optimise the processes with regards to efficiency, safety and sustainability. Often this involves working with other engineers, contractors and various stakeholders to ensure that the project delivered is an overall success.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the variety and mix of both office and practical plant work. Troubleshooting different plant problems allows continuous use of problem solving skills, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Commissioning outputs of project work into physical improvements is something I find very fulfilling, as well as the amount of responsibility I have been given early in my career.

What are the challenges?

Working in an operating plant environment, I have to be able to work well with a range of people, from discipline engineers to maintenance technicians and operators. So being able to communicate effectively and coordinate work activities with these different groups can be challenging, but is essential to performing well.

Managing my project work with the day-to-day running of the plant can also be a challenge as often, for example, I may have to prioritise production rate over carrying out trials for a particular project.

In what way is your degree relevant?

I use the fundamentals of my degree course every day, especially for understanding how equipment works and the underlying theory of the processes.

Core topics such as mass/energy balance, heat transfer and fluid mechanics are directly applicable when problem solving in project work or how to devise a practical solution to a production problem.

How has your role developed?

As I gain more knowledge and experience, I am assigned greater responsibility in my role. This means I have additional aspects to manage and am relied upon to complete certain tasks on a daily basis.

Overall, I have developed an 'owner mind-set' of the process units I have been assigned to. I hope to develop into a senior engineer, achieve chartership and play an active role in larger capital growth projects.

How do I get into production engineering?

My advice for becoming a production or process engineer in a manufacturing setting is to get involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible at university to develop strong soft skills. Aim to do several internships including a year-long industrial placement and use every interview question as a chance to sell yourself, rather than simply answering the question.

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