Globetrotting with Chemical Engineering

I was born in Venezuela (Caracas). Although I was primarily raised there, I lived in multiple locations around the American Continent. To this date, I find the contrasting lifestyle between a country such as Venezuela and The United States fascinating.

At the age of 12 my parents decided to eventually settle down in the sunny island of Mallorca (Spain), where I got to experience the “Mediterranean way of life” as the Spanish call it.

In 2013, I decided to relocate from Spain to the UK to pursue a university degree in Chemical Engineering. During my student years, I enjoyed being immersed in British culture from the Sunday roast, to evenings at the pubs, watching the football and of course, the rain.

After finishing my University degree in 2017, I decided to expand my horizons further by relocating to Australia where I got my first job as a chemical engineer. Although I was based in Sydney, I was working for the Papua New Guinean (PNG) Oil and Gas company, which required short trips to site and continuous teamwork with the local operators and engineers. The country of PNG demonstrated a completely different culture to anything I had experienced in the past, from the outstanding natural beauty to the security and infrastructure challenges.

Papua New Guinea. Source: Oil Search - Image supplied by the author

During my time in Australia, I moved again to Melbourne and Brisbane to continue pursuing a range of experiences and projects. This time, I largely worked as a process engineer in water/wastewater. One of my local projects included the design and construction of a water treatment plant in one of the remote islands of Northern Australia. At the time, the locals needed to boil water due to the poor water quality. As an interesting fact, the main safety hazard of the project was a 5-meter-long crocodile living in the water reservoir!

Luggage Point Sewage Treatment Works, Brisbane, Australia. Source: Site visit by the author

After almost 3 years in Australia, I relocated back to the UK. Since then, I have been mainly working in a combination of my previous two jobs which entails water/wastewater industrial treatment plants within the Oil and Gas sector. As part of my role, I have had the opportunity to work on projects around the world from the Middle East, Europe and South Africa. The majority of these have been in Saudi Arabia, where the contrast between energy resource abundance and water scarcity in the region offers new challenges and opportunities.

In this article, I wanted to highlight one of the biggest perks of becoming a chemical engineer through the telling of my own journey (so far!). Your skills are globally in demand, which allows you to experience a range of cultural backgrounds whilst growing professionally as a chemical engineer, and socially as a well-seasoned traveller, and global citizen.