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Can a process operator switch to engineering

Can a process operator switch to engineering

(OP)
I am a process operator for a petroleum refinery but I have always loved to become a production engineer in the upstream part of the business. I already have a 4yr college course work and currently planning on pursuing a bachelors in mechanical engineering but I don't know if my experience as an operator will be considered experience for engineering position after graduation. Is it really possible for a process operator to switch to engineering( production engineer/ drilling and completions or facilities engineer), what are the pros and cons. Please I need your advice.

RE: Can a process operator switch to engineering

I would think that with an mechanical engineering degree, your 'hands on' experience as an operator would be a very valuable addition. You've been there operating stuff, you know how stuff works versus what the drawing say or the procedures say and what can go wrong, how people can make mistakes or do to try and keep production going.

RE: Can a process operator switch to engineering

I worked as a mechanical operator for 6 years before going to college. I've found some employers put a very high value on that (they say that time turning valves and wrenches gives my designs insight and my stuff is easier to operate), others discount it as wasted time, others couldn't care less about non-Engineering time. Working for the ones who value that experience is a lot more fun. When I've been hiring I always look favorably at people who have worked for a living. Relevant work is even better, and I'd certainly call refinery time relevant to upstream Facilities Engineering, but maybe not so much to Production Engineering or Drilling Engineering (but even in those areas, your experience gives you many human-factors experiences that are always relevant).

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle of injustice Frédéric Bastiat

RE: Can a process operator switch to engineering

I will join the chorus and second that a past as an operator would be appreciated. Do it because you want to - but start to develop a plan now what you think you would like to do in the future. It may require a change of workplace in ordre to "break out" of you old role.

@zdas "... worked for a living" LOL. Well getting serious i guess that engineering is fun - so it dosnt count winky smile

BEst regards, Morten

RE: Can a process operator switch to engineering

Exactly.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle of injustice Frédéric Bastiat

RE: Can a process operator switch to engineering

Thanks guys, I really appreciate your encouragement. The company I work for gives tuition reimbursement to those pursuing a Bsc. or Msc and I was looking at applying but don't know if I will get the reimbursement or not since my job only requires a high school or associates degree. Is it a wise move to sponsor my bachelors alone or involve the company. What are pros and cons; I know some of u also took this route b4 becoming an engineer; how did u do it and what's your advice.

Thanks

RE: Can a process operator switch to engineering

hi tee1981

If you are a dependable and respected worker in your current role your employer should see your desire to further yourself as desirable trait, I would be very surprised if they would not contribute to the costs of the course and wish you to stay within the company (if the role is offered). I worked alongside an excellent degree qualified structural design engineer some years ago whom decided pushing "a blue light along" was not something he wished to do his whole life.

The experience he gained as a metal bashing welder/fabricator was evident in his hands on approach to the more academic side of engineering and he had an excellent common sense approach us hands on guys develop. I myself started off as a draughtsman before becoming an engineer. If you have the desire go for it.

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