Will Senior

Will Senior

Name: Will Senior

Job title: Process Engineer

Company: Fluor

Country: UK
A-levels: Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Computing
University: University of Surrey

I was introduced to chemical engineering by my school chemistry teacher. She knew I hadn’t decided on a degree course and thought I would be well suited to a career as a chemical engineer. I enjoyed maths and sciences at school and wanted a course that would use these subjects in a practical way. I did some research and knew it was the right course for me.

The diversity of the subject was one of the main aspects that attracted me, with possible careers in fields as diverse as oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, nuclear and food processing to name a few, being an important factor for me.

A range of placements

Engineering Design modules made up a significant part of the final year of the degree and, for me, they were the best part of the course. It was great to see how the theory we had learnt could be applied to model chemical plants and design pieces of process equipment. Having the opportunity to work closely with a team of classmates, lecturers and industry experts was also a good learning experience for me.

I had two summer placement schemes during my time at university. The first was an EPSRC grant to work with a research team at the University of Surrey’s Ion Beam Centre. The following year I worked for an engineering consultancy firm. I’d strongly recommend that any engineering student look to get real work experience whilst studying.

During my final year design project I was fortunate enough to be taught by a Fluor employee, who worked at the University of Surrey as an ‘Industry Expert’. I enjoyed the project and got a good insight into life at Fluor, so I was very pleased to get on one of their available graduate places.

As well as learning the basics of chemical engineering design, I’ve had many opportunities to learn about how projects in the industry are run. As chemical engineers play a central role in the design of industrial complexes there is a lot of interfacing with engineers from other disciplines, as well as with the project management and client teams.

Career highlights

I’ve had two opportunities to work abroad during my first years with Fluor. I spent 2 months working in the Fluor Philippines office in Manila, followed closely by 15 months at a chemicals construction site in Saudi Arabia. Both experiences have been my career highlights so far and I feel very fortunate to work in industry where these opportunities are available.

It’s important to do your own research in chemical engineering, as it’s a subject that’s often misunderstood. There’s a lot less chemistry than most people realise – the focus is much more on the physical properties of fluids than their chemical properties.