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Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Dr Davannendran Chandran PhD CEng CEnv CSci IntPE (UK) MIMechE MIMMM FHEA

Published: 27/06/2022

Education and qualifications:
PhD in Mechanical Engineering, University of Nottingham
BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, University of Nottingham

Job title:
Senior Lecturer – Mechanical Engineering

Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS

What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
I was inspired to pursue Mechanical Engineering because of my admiration of Formula One engineers. Especially the way they use engineering knowledge to design and also continuously develop fast and reliable race cars throughout the season.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
As a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, I deliver lectures for BEng and MSc students, prepare assessments, supervise undergraduate and postgraduate (MSc & PhD) students and mentor students. In addition I secure research grants, perform research, submit manuscripts for publication and present at conferences. I also provide consultations for challenges faced in the industry and deliver short courses relevant to my industrial and research experience.

Can you describe a typical working day?
What is a typical working day very much depends on the cycle of a teaching semester. During the first half of a teaching semester, my time is usually spent preparing content for assessments and lectures, as well as delivering lectures. During the second half, more time is spent evaluating submissions such as tests, assignments, project reports, final examinations and oral presentations. I’m also involved in preparing research proposals, research works, supervision, publication, consultancy works and short courses which, although they are ongoing during the teaching semester, more time is typically spent on these during the off-teaching semester. My current research focuses on developing fluid for use in electric vehicles from biowaste material, as well as investigating metal corrosion and polymer degradation due to exposure to alternative/renewable fuel. I am also developing an anticorrosion coating using 2D material with the aim of improving the corrosion resistance of piping used in the chemical industry.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
The university, being part of PETRONAS, puts a lot of emphasis on academics being well connected within the industry, and keeping up-to-date with the development, pain points and future directions of the industry. Having spent several years as a Senior Engineer (Mechanical and Piping at BASF PETRONAS Chemicals prior to joining the university), I am engaged in several industrial consultancy projects. Performing consultancy for industry alongside teaching and research is a major challenge; even moreso when unexpected challenges arise which affect their progress. Engineering knowledge, communication and time management skills are essential to manage it effectively. The training I underwent during my PhD and the experience I gained while practising as an engineer have assisted me in developing the necessary skills. Especially in terms of communication, scheduling and having the discipline to follow the schedule. Having acquired the necessary knowledge and skills (and aiming to continuously improve them) I am able to manage the challenges I face.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
The most enjoyable part of my job is when I get to solve complex problems that require in-depth study and critical analysis.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
On top of Chartered Engineer (CEng) registration, I also successfully registered as an International Professional Engineer (IntPE) with the Engineering Council; as a Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) with the Society for the Environment; and as a Chartered Scientist (CSci) with the Science Council. I have experience researching renewable (biodiesel) fuel for use in existing diesel engines – to curb the carcinogenic effect of fossil diesel fuel – and have done in-depth study of biodiesel fuel up to molecular level, focusing its effects towards fuel delivery materials. This experience gave me the opportunity to apply for professional registration in other fields and write my thesis – a great achievement for me.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
During my undergraduate study, I was made aware that professional registration is recognised as the gold standard of the engineering profession globally. Since then, it has been my aim to attain the required knowledge and understanding (through my academic qualifications) and professional competence (through work experience) to obtain professional registration.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
Gaining professional registration has boosted my confidence in my engineering knowledge and skills, as well as motivating me to continue learning, which I personally feel is essential to keep abreast of advancements in knowledge and technology. In addition, being professionally registered consistently reminds me to be conscious and responsible for my actions and decisions towards the organisation, society and environment as a whole. Registration also aided me to build trust with my superiors in my capability to complete the assigned tasks responsibly and successfully.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
Because I am professionally registered, my employer benefits from the value I bring to the organisation, especially the responsible use of engineering knowledge, adhering to standards, ethics and safe practices.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
As a practising engineer, professional registration is absolutely necessary to demonstrate that you have acquired the necessary professional competence to perform engineering independently. It also shows your commitment towards your profession. I would strongly recommend considering it seriously.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
I see myself in a more responsible and senior position in the university, perhaps closer to achieving Professorship. I also see myself having established a research team consisting of postgraduate MSc and PhD students and postdoctoral research fellows, with ongoing collaborations with researchers from other institutions. Also, I see myself forming solid connections with the industry to provide solutions through research works, commercialisation and consultancy services.

Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time that relates to engineering? For example, do you participate in mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
I mentor young engineers, especially my students who are currently working in various parts of the world towards gaining their professional registration. I also encourage and provide guidance to my colleagues concerning professional registration.