Insanity Crash: 100 - Professional Limits?

This is my 100th post.

This week I have been attending my first ever technical training day that has been organised by Wood Group for my professional pleasure, and it is a breath of fresh air being taught about things that might have an actual impact upon my career and indeed myself. I refer you to my experiences of being called Blue and let's just say I lay that to rest there and then.

Initally I was expecting a control class, for the name of the company that had organised the training course was ESD Simulations, which I took to be Emergency Shut Down simulations. No. Infact, this course was one of the most informative things that I have ever been on and this is why. It was the class that we never did at university.

We did Separations, Membranes, Plastics, Biotechnology, Food Science, Safety, Fluid Flow, Business, English (yes, can you believe it?) and loads of useless maths that made us feel like we were doing something at university but in fact were treading water for everyone else to catch up. No where in our curriculum was there a class on Oil and Gas, which is backwards considering 75% of last years new process engineers that WG employed came from the hallowed halls of Strathclyde.

I was taught numerous things over 3 days of slightly vague but detailed enough information that will certainly help (and have helped) me to further my career.

This is where the lecturer impressed me most. He explained that he knows a lot about everything, something I cannot contest. His words were brimming with experience and whilst it was delivered slightly smugly, he reminded us one fact: he is only telling us to get our act into gear because he sees it creating problems.

Case in point: the last few weeks I have been working quietly away at some calculations (blow down orifice size calcs for those who care) and have been told a few times to look up the relevant standards. This is the legal requirement - I need to adhere to what the BAP (best available practise) is and also what things I need to take into consideration. I have also been told, or at the very least, it has been suggested, that I “copy” from a previous calculation the method there.

His point, and a good point it is, that it probably didn't work right the last time. If it shuts a process down, or it causes high maintenance, or at worst is a safety risk, then wy do it again? But, you might think that is obvious, and I would agree with you, but for one thing. There is no mechanism in place to let me see how well previous projects went on for two reasons. One, the client will hush flaws up to save costs and also the company will not publicise failures readily. So how do I know the design was bollocks in the first place?

I have decided that the only way to counter this is to become the most competent engineer that I can be, and the lecturer, whilst his constant repetition about how “you fuckers” (me, and the whole design contractor world) have it backwards (going for the lowest capital rather than the inherent process safety) did grate after a while, he made some very valid points, and one that stuck out in my mind.

“Don't get caught up in Aberdeen, don't get sucked in. There are hundreds of grey haired engineers up here who drive their big cars making loads of money and they won't change. It is up to you to change the mentality and it starts now. If I had the knowledge I am giving you now when I started, it would have been invaluable.” You could say he made quite an impression on me.