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Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

Hello everyone,

I recently been contacted by an E&P for a screen interview for the role of a Process Engineer at a Petrochemical Facility.

Can anyone suggest / reference a good book/website/etc. that I may look at and do an intense reading for a less than a week and help me grasp the general calculation done as a process engineer? Such as heat/mass balance, heat transfer applications, chemistry, etc. The basics. I did see thermodynamics and heat transfer in college but haven't really applied them in my roles.

Brief background of myself. I’m a mechanical engineer and my experience involves engineering, quality, and fabrication of O&G equipment such as test separator skid packages, skid packages, pressure piping, and pressure vessels for the upstream and midstream. I have a large interest to be more involved with the process aspect of a system and to work in a downstream facility. Given what I know, I would tell my younger self to study chemical engineering.

Note: interview is in two weeks.

RE: Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

Process Engineering can be a very broad field depending on your company, the process, and even the individuals involved.
Whilst i would commend you for taking an interest in the processes used by your potential employer they have obviously considered you as a potentially suitable candidate based on your current resume.
Unless you have not been careful with the facts they should have seen that you have at best limited process engineering experience. For many that is good news provided that you are generally smart, capable and willing to learn.
Going back a few years i got paired up with a lady who had absolutely zero process engineering knowledge. She actually had qualifications in education and mathematics but was really keen to learn and was interested. It was like starting with a blank canvas and had no biases or preconceived notions and had to learn about everything. She would ask the most difficult questions sometimes in pursuit of knowledge.

Although she eventually had to leave the industry due to ill health after a few years she was way better than at least half of the well qualified "Process Engineers" that i knew.

I guess what i am saying is this.
1)You may already have the core skills the employer is looking for, and they will teach you the detailed process knowledge you need.
2) in the time available you are not going to get anymore than a very basic knowledge of the processes involved. Don't try to present yourself with anything more than this. But well done on expressing enough willingness to try to get a basic understanding.

"Any water can be made potable if you filter it through enough money"

RE: Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

The following topics might be of interest as refreshers:

- Process control (basic PID, master-slave logic etc.)
- Process quality (engineering statistics)
- Basic fluid and thermodynamics (Bernoulli equation, pump basics, q=mcpdT)
- Simple chemistry (exothermic/endothermic, equilibrium principles, perhaps the some hydrocarbon chemistry since it's a petrochem role)
- Processes (upstream, downstream, reactions related to petrochem)

I've seen mechanical engineers work as process engineers. The reverse (process engineers working as mechanical engineers) is not so common in my experience

RE: Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

Hiring an ME to do process design seems like a very odd fit to me, but maybe there are some unmentioned details that make this not so odd. It's in your interest and theirs for neither party to have any false impressions. It's OK to do some research prior to the interview, to get a basic understanding of what process engineers do, but don't give the interviewer an inflated impression of your current capabilities based on superficial knowledge that you've gleaned in the previous two weeks.

BTW, you'll find tons of info about what process engineers do by simply searching in Google.

RE: Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

In a plant a ME background is even better than a ChE, just present yourself as you are, you'll pickup whatever Chemical Eng details through on the job training,

Learn your way into the field...

RE: Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

Interesting topic, as I am in the market for new position myself. I'm an ME and have been working as a Process Engineer for a consulting engineering firm for the past ten years. Mostly piping and equipment sizing and specifications. As hacksaw mentions, ChemE stuff can be learned on the job, and heavy chemical engineering, such as exothermic runaway reaction in a vessel, can be done by others in our team.

It all depends on the company, I guess.

However, it is difficult to find a new position, as the employers I've spoken with do ask for a larger chemical engineering experience, which I don't have. On the other hand, I don't have much MEP or HVAC experience so finding a job in that field is even harder. Unless I move closer to a plant, there aren't many process piping jobs out there.

I design aqueducts in a parallel universe.

RE: Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

This is an interesting thread. I've learned that people have a broader interpretation of what "process engineering" means, as compared to what I previously thought. There's a lot of variability between different companies (operating companies and EPC's), and there's apparently a lot of variability in what different companies describe as "process engineering" work. I think of process engineering as the application of the core skills that are initially learned in the ChE curriculum in university (fluid flow, chemical thermo, kinetics, mass transfer, heat transfer, process simulation, etc.). That's the case in the company where I work, but that's not necessarily true everywhere. Certainly, a mechanical engineer can probably learn the skills necessary to be a proficient process engineering generalist - I just haven't personally seen it done. I only know of one case in which that was tried. A young mechanical engineer transferred into the process engineering department about eight years ago. He expressed an interest in trying the PE discipline, and since he was very smart, and a hard worker, they gave him the chance. He was able to function well with some particular PE tasks, but he struggled with others, especially in generating and interpreting process simulation models. After a couple of years he grew frustrated and quit. I don't mean this as a slight against mechanical engineers.

If a company assigns their process engineers to narrowly focus on tasks such as fluid flow and heat transfer, then an ME could probably function just fine. But if they're expecting their process engineers to be proficient at tasks like distillation design and process modeling, then I think an ME will have a hard time competing with ChE colleagues.

RE: Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

Any news @Sublimination64?

RE: Process Eng. Job Interview, I'm a ME

Great comments everyone one!

Right now I am waiting until next week when they're supposed to notify me if I continue for an in-person interview with the hiring manager. The screen interview was mostly conversational with the HR rep. Lasted 15 min.

Really hope I hear back from them.

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