Adya Deshmukh

Adya Deshmukh

Name: Adya Deshmukh

Job title: Senior Process Engineer

Company: Fluor

Country: UK
A-levels: Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Business Studies (AS level)
University: University of Surrey

My grandfather was a mechanical engineer and my father is an electronic engineer, so it’s probably not surprising that when I was selecting my degree, chemical engineering was suggested. That was the first time I heard about chemical engineering though, so I decided to do some research.

I went to the school’s career service and whynotchemeng; both were very helpful and provided lots of information. The most important aspects for me were that the subject was interesting and the opportunities were huge - chemical engineers work across a wide variety of fields.

A great experience

I loved my time at the University of Surrey. I enjoyed almost all of the subjects, but especially the subjects which allowed me to apply the theories I’d learnt, so my favourite part of the course was the design project - you work on your individual tasks but then the whole team produces a complete design at the end.

I spent my industrial placement year in GlaxoSmithKline’s R&D department which involved testing at pilot plant level. The skills learnt at university were built on both academically and socially and the experience was invaluable to my development as a chemical engineer.

Applying the theory

I started at Fluor as a graduate. Since then I have worked on over 20 projects, from conceptual studies to front end engineering design for over 15 different clients across the globe. As I go from project to project I am fortunate to work with people who are both knowledgeable and approachable, which helps me learn and develop as an engineer. I’m now a Chartered Chemical Engineer and I try to adopt the same approach in mentoring others to attain Chartered status.

Fluor is a design contractor, and a typical day for me involves the production and development of process deliverables such as process flow diagrams, heat and material balances, process equipment sizing etc. This is interjected by trouble-shooting and interfacing with other engineering disciplines, project management or the client. In many ways, it’s like doing the inter-discipline design project, which means applying all the theory learnt at university to real life.

As the job is mostly design based, much of the time is spent in the office. However, there are opportunities to travel, both to other Fluor offices or site locations. I had the opportunity to go on assignment to Fluor’s Aliso Viejo office in California to learn about their patented Carbon Capture process and apply this knowledge to a number of studies. It was exciting to work on new and emerging technologies which do not have the same tried and tested methods of mainstream hydrocarbon processing.

Being well-informed

It’s scary picking a university degree, but a little research can be a big help, like:

    • visiting the information section of this website
    • looking at university prospectuses and websites, which will not only tell you what grades you need, but also what they offer, descriptions of their current students etc
    • check the course is accredited by IChemE (you can still become Chartered if your course is not accredited, but it may require more work, time and effort)
    • talk to a chemical engineer - perhaps a family member or neighbour, or a visiting engineer who has come to your school to give a talk or presentation - and don't hesitate to ask questions, if you're not comfortable asking in front of a group you can always ask individually afterwards
    • look at local companies who employ chemical engineers - do they offer work experience?