Interview with Process Engineer, Linh Nguyen
Name: Linh Nguyen
Current employer: Fluor Corporation
Job title: Process Engineer
Science Career: Chemical Engineer
Time working in this field: 9 years
How would you describe what you do in your job to a student?
I like to describe process engineers as the "architects" for a refinery/plant. Process engineers determine the design of the plant — basically how the plant needs to work in order to take a starting material (the feedstock) and transform it into the desired product. For example, we determine what equipment is needed, what "size" the equipment needs to be, and how big the pipes connecting the equipment need to be. The design that the process engineers develop forms the "blueprints" (drawings and specification sheets) of the plant. Based on these "blueprints," process engineers work with many other disciplines (Mechanical, Piping, Control Systems, Electrical, Construction, etc.) to bring their design to life and build a successful plant!
How did you become interested in this area of science/engineering?
Through middle school and high school, I always liked math and science subjects more than history and English. In particular, I remember really enjoying Chemistry (especially the lab experiments!), and I excelled in math classes like calculus. When considering a major in college, chemical engineering seemed like the perfect combination of the two.
What are some of the key characteristics that are important for a person to succeed in this type of work?
I think good communication is one of the most important skills to succeed in any type of work. Building a plant is a team effort! All engineers on the team need to be able to communicate their ideas, their problems, and their solutions in order to have a successful project.
Describe a project that you have worked on that was of particular interest to you.
The project that I am currently on is to design and build a new chemical plant in Channelview, Texas. We have finished the design and engineering phases and are currently in the construction phase. In my current role as a Process Field Engineer, I have been relocated from the office to the construction site. With this role, I support the construction team by answering any questions about the design and making sure the facility is built according to the process design documents. It has been an amazing experience to see the equipment and piping, which I designed on paper, physically fabricated and installed.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
As a process engineer at Fluor, I really enjoy the opportunity to work on many different types of projects and processes. I have worked on oil and gas offshore projects, revamping chemical plants, and designing new utility systems. I have also worked on projects in Russia, Iraq and recently, many on the Gulf Coast. The variety keeps the work interesting!
Is there any advice you would give to someone interested in this field that you wish someone had given you when you were starting out?
Don't be afraid to ask questions! Through high school and even college, I was very shy when it came to asking questions or asking for help from my teachers and professors. There is no harm in asking questions. That is how you learn!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my husband, playing fetch with our dog and relaxing on the couch with our cat. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, reading, exercising, watching e-sports and playing computer games!