Every time I get asked –
How do I get into Designing?
How do I become a Process Engineer?
We all want to work as a process engineer and why not?
Even I wanted to work as a process engineer when I was out as a fresher, and I got a job as a process engineer after three years of my graduation.
Some may get immediately after graduation. Some have to stick around till we start off as a process engineer.
The question is what to do until you start off as a process engineer or if you didn’t get a head start that you wished?
Should you wait? If yes, then how long?
Till someone picks you up and put a tag on you “Process Engineer.”
Times are bad, but that doesn’t mean you underestimate your caliber.
But the real trick is to
Stop waiting to be picked as a Design Engineer.
Because the fact of the matter is, you already are a design engineer.
You don’t need any extra tag to be one. You don’t need any approval from anyone.
The point is to believe that you are a Design Engineer rather than waiting for someone to pick you up and tag it.
To believe you can do what you’re asking others to think about you.
When you start feeling that you already are a process or a design engineer, you start taking action.
You don’t have to wait, like how I did. Learn from my mistakes.
The thing that will matter after years is that you acted, that you made a contribution, you took an initiative towards it.
I waited. I asked many people on the Internet because my dream never allowed me to sleep.
My desire to work as a Process Engineer never allowed me to sleep
You can read this article and also the comments, especially the first one, which is by me.
Does it sound like you?
If yes, that is because it’s not that only I faced such situation, it’s not that only you are the one who is facing such situation, it’s more or less every other chemical engineer, notably fresher, who didn’t got placed through campus. It is the case of young chemical engineers around the country, if not globe (although the drop in crude prices has affected everyone involved in it directly or indirectly).
As I said, it was difficult for me to go to bed, I kept asking people,
But no one cared –
Fact – No one bothered and No one will ever.
I was working as a production cum textile technician in a textile processing plant.
Now you might be wondering then how all this –
Because I stopped waiting. I took action.
Action defines what you are and not some words on paper.
When you believe that you already are a process engineer, you start seeing yourself one and your action differs.
You see things in a different way.
You no more see things as an ordinary person but rather as a design engineer.
When you see a tank, you won’t see it as some geometric figure; you will see the function rather than the form.
Although the form is also important, more importantly, the form should follow function. For example, whether it should be a dished end or not.
You can see the underlined principles of the design. You can try to analyze it’s importance in the plant.
No matter where you are, even if you start off with working in operation or production or floor job; you can do simple calculations in your mind, and no one will ever come to know.
One thing that will help you is sharp observation.
The Advantages of Anonymity
Compare a lead engineer and a fresher working as a production engineer.
Let’s say you did some calculation which at first, nobody will notice or care, and that should be just fine. Because you will be finally doing what you always wanted to do or were seeking permission for being one. Calculation as Process Engineer.
Don’t you think that it will be good to practice without the whole world watching you? And it won’t matter much if your calculation doesn’t match with an actual running plant.
If your estimate doesn’t match with the plant practical design, you can go back and try to find out the flaw but if a lead engineer does a mistake, you can only imagine what will happen – it might come in the book – What Went Wrong!
All you have to do is:
I have worked on the floor, so, I know how it is to be in the plant, working in shift.
In India, there’s no value. But let me share one simple, direct, one of the phenomenal example that may help you to understand what I’m saying or perhaps also inspire you –
As a design or a process engineer or an undergrad you might have come across – Applied Process Design for Chemical and Petrochemical Plants, Volume 1, 2 and 3 – Ernest E. Ludwig.
His experience helped him accomplished such a monumental work and set a benchmark for designers.
Have you read or heard about the book- What Went Wrong? By Trevor Kletz.
Trevor Kletz joined Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) and spent eight years in research, sixteen in production management and the last fourteen as safety adviser to the Petrochemicals Division
But the point is to emphasize that there’s no limit where you can reach. The point is to start from where you are to be where you want to be.
Here’s the bitter truth – No one will give you the permission, unless and until you claim to be one.
That’s how you become “legit” in the eyes of others — not by waiting for an acknowledgment, but by acting as if you already have it. And here’s the crazy part: When you do this, you get the permission you’ve been waiting.
Not by asking for it, but by proving yourself.
Yes, we want people, seniors, and companies to approve us, and tag us – Process Engineer
But until that happens, you have to learn, not to wallow in remorse or self-pity.
You want it. Go for it. Start taking one step at a time. Every step should bring closer to your goal.
Here’s an incident I’ll share it with you:
I told to my professor when I was in the third year,
“I want to be the best of the best – The Elite.”
She replied, “So you want to be part of cream de la cream!”
I nodded, yes.
She said, “I’ll share one small story, see if you can pick up some valuable piece out of it.”
I was more eager than the kid looking at candy outside a candy shop.
“I will give my life to play like you,” said somebody from the audience while listening to a great musician.
“I have already given,” said the player.
Yes, saying is always easier than done. But that is how it is supposed to be because to do something that keeps value in your eyes is not an easy task, for it takes what it takes.
You must be gritty enough to punch back; you must be strong enough not to take words of others at face value.
Being in a chemical field is not easy. It requires patience, dedication, and determination. And worst of all after all your effort things may or may not end up as you thought, but putting action is important if you want to give it a shot. At least you won’t regret of not making an effort.
Don’t call it a struggle, instead see it as a journey.
The most dreadful thing one does, especially once out from the college, as a fresher is – to wait.
And wait and wait, until it strikes that, it leads you nowhere.
So what do you do when you fall?
Do you just lye around and wait for someone to pick you up or pick yourself and move forward?
You pick yourself, right?
And if you are someone like, Eric Liddell, you will not only pick yourself up and run but finish it first.
What can help you to work as a design engineer?
You’ve to understand one thing very clearly,
No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.
Start wherever you are and with whatever you have, you will move one step closer with each day.
One concept at a time. One equation at a time.
– Sumit Asrani