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If I Can Travel Back to the Past...

It has been almost 10 years since I received my Chemical Engineering Bachelor Degree from University of Bradford, United Kingdom. Sometimes I thought myself on what should I have done differently if I can travel back to the past. What I will do if I can repeat the entire life as a chemical engineering student? What changes will I make on my lifestyle as a chemical engineering student? What will be the improvements that I can make upon graduating as an engineer...

After thinking about it, I came out with the following points:

1) If I can travel back to the past, I will put more effort on my studies. I want to consistently do well in all the tests and examinations. I want to excel with flying colours and get first class honours. I don't want to do last minute study. It wasn't easy but I must be strong and discipline in order to do well.
Moral: Excel in your academics.

2) If I can travel back to the past, I will make sure to join a very big multinational oil company - Esso (currently known as ExxonMobil after it merged with Mobil) as an intern or trainee engineer. I was so disappointed to miss the opportunity provided by Esso to join them on summer 1998 for 3 months. The offer letter was sent to my home in Malaysia, but I was studying in UK. Unfortunately, my father informed about the offer after a few days. By the time the offer letter reached me in UK, it was too late for me. I missed a very good opportunity to expose myself to the real engineering world.
Moral: Make sure you take advantage of any industrial training available. You'll be surprise on how the real world is.

3) If I can travel back to the past, I want to take additional classes of process control which will allow me to have a degree called: "Chemical Engineering with Process Control". I would like to have added value in my chemical engineering degree. I should have listened to myself, my heart and not following my friends.
Moral: Make sure you know what your goals are and stick to your plans. Do not simply follow others.

4) If I can travel back to the past, I want to put more effort in my final year design project and get better marks for it. My project back then was "Alumina from Bauxite" and we have to design and build a plant to process bauxite until it becomes Alumina. It would be better if we can visit a similar plant in Scotland to have better comprehension on all the processes and equipments. We should have insisted our supervisor, Prof N. Harnby to arrange the visit for us.

As an individual, one of my assignment was to design a rotary drum filter. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to imagine how it look like although I have read and seen the diagram inside various related text book. That time the internet was just kicking off and there are lack of information on the process and the equipments. I know, I cannot blame the internet. I need to work harder to get more information for my assignment. If I have better network with my seniors or practicing engineers, it would be a different story. I can ask or check with them. But, I don't have know anyone from the industry...
Moral: We need to work extra hard in order to fully understand the subject. This is a chemical engineering course and it is not an easy course. You'll be proud being a chemical engineer...believe me... because I'm proud being one.

5) If I can travel back to the past, after graduating, I will straight away register myself with Board of Engineers, Malaysia (BEM) and Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM). I will straight away get myself a mentor and follow all the training programs. By doing that, I can be a professional engineer at 26 or 27 years old. By associating myself with fellow professional engineers, I can extend my networks and also exchange/share technical knowledge.

When I was doing my degree, I have became a junior member of IChemE (Institution of Chemical Engineers, UK) and upon graduating, my membership was upgraded to "Associate Member". However, I wish I had followed all the training programs in order to become a registered chartered engineer. The constraint that time was the high cost of the renewal membership fees which hindered me from renewing my membership. Luckily, now we have IChemE Malaysia branch and the fees are charged in Malaysian Ringgit instead of Pound Sterling.
Moral: Make sure you register with the related professional bodies, association or institution and follow the training to be professional engineers. Nobody stresses the importance to me before, hence I ignored it. Now that I'm already following the training program and realized the importance of becoming a professional engineer, I keep advising young graduates to start young.

Well, those are few points which I can share with all of you. I hope you can learn something from it. I wish somebody had come to me and share something if not everything about what chemical engineering is all about. Now, I'm sharing a slice of my career experience for the benefit of young and future chemical engineer.

Anybody else want to share your experience...

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posted by Kipas Repair JB @ 8:24 PM,


At Thursday, July 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If i can travel back to the past, i'd focused more on college instead of work so i'd be ending my undegraduate by now, with 26 years old...

Great blog! I hope to read more about your teaching/research career in the future!

At Thursday, July 17, 2008, Blogger mostlyepiphanies said...

This is extremely useful especially for a student like me, to be able to learn from someone who's been through the degree process!

I'm halfway through second year now (it's been a whirlwind to say the least) and I concur that Chemical Engineering isn't the most easiest degree out there.

Having been through core chemical engineering units last semester, and more next semester,I've gained a deeper understanding and exposure of the flexible and vast nature of chemical engineering,therefore I am extremely excited about things to come! I'm sure it's well worth it!

I was actually planning to do my industrial training somewhere back home in Malaysia during my summer break (Jan-Feb). Say, do you happen to have any links or suggestions as to what companies offer placements suitable for a student having completed 2 years of Chemical Engineering education (By the end of this year I should have covered thermo, heat + mass transfer, fluid mechanics + basic particle technology, reaction engineering, mass energy balance). It would be great to be able to squeeze in some industrial training.

Anyways, this post is extremely useful, and I surely will take with me the morals!

At Friday, July 18, 2008, Blogger Webworm said...

Never too late unless you cease to do so....

At Friday, July 18, 2008, Blogger Kipas Repair JB said...

Gabriel + aizuddinanuar,

Thanks for your encourangement. I will continue share experience for the benefits of others.


Yep. I believe that is the attitude all of us should have. Just do it... and don't think that it's too late...

At Friday, July 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is extremely very good. I think, Everybody feel like this.

At Friday, July 18, 2008, Blogger Kipas Repair JB said...

Ha ha...
Thanks. Yep, maybe everybody felt the same way. However, we can share the experiences with those who just started...who is brand new...who is still fresh... :)

At Monday, July 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with you that chemical engineering isn't easy.i struggle to to understand every concept that delivered in class.and now i'm glad i in final year student in utm but it never stop me to learn and apply knowledge after graduating.


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The Author


I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!

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