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Interview with Process Engineer, Linh Nguyen

Linh Nguyen, Fluor Engineer Name: Linh Nguyen
Current employer: Fluor Corporation
Job title: Process Engineer
Science Career: Chemical Engineer
Time working in this field: 6 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 exceled 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.

One of my more memorable experiences, so far, was working on a revamp project for an existing plant located in Freeport, Texas. It was a small project, where we needed to install a new vessel and pump in the plant. With the guidance of my lead engineer, I calculated the size of the vessel and pump to meet the required design specifications. The vessel and pump got purchased and installed, and we were invited to visit the site. As a young engineer, being able to see something that I designed on paper actually installed in the field was very rewarding. What started out as just a drawing and calculation was actually operating and working properly in the field!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the people/team that I work with. Specific to being a process engineer at Fluor, I really enjoy the opportunity to work on many different types of projects/processes. I've worked on oil and gas/offshore projects, revamping chemical plants, and building new utility systems. I've 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 for help/questions from my teachers/professors. There is no harm in asking questions. That is how you learn!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy relaxing and spending time with my family and cat! In my free time, I enjoy cooking, watching TV, reading, exercising and playing computer games!