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Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Shahzeb Hassan MEng CEng PEng MIChemE MSCE

Published: 17/11/2023

A man stands in front of a flip chart with a diagram drawn on it.Education and qualifications:
MEng Chemical Engineering, Nadirshaw Eduljee Dinshaw (NED) University of Engineering and Technology, Pakistan

Job title:
Process Engineer

Petro Rabigh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia





What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
During high school, I wrestled with a captivating question: chemistry or computer science? I was deeply into computer programming, but I also found chemistry fascinating. Ultimately, I chose to pursue chemical engineering because it allowed me to blend my knowledge of chemistry, engineering, and computer programming to solve real-world problems.

As time has passed, I've noticed a significant shift in the industry towards automation and digitalisation. I aspire to be a part of this transformation, driven by my passion for the field. It's a source of pride for me to be the first and only chemical engineer in my family, and this is just the beginning of my journey.

Starting with the largest oil refinery of Pakistan, Cynergico, I switched to intermediate refinery, Pakistan Refinery Limited with a dominant role in the field of process engineering and then moved into petrochemicals, Engro Polymer and chemicals, where I spent almost two years. Now I work in one of the largest integrated Middle East refinery and petrochemical complex, Petro Rabigh.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.

As a Process Engineer, my role involves offering process engineering assistance to plant contact engineers and senior engineers, aiding them in continuous assessments such as equipment monitoring, optimisation, and addressing any performance issues within the plant. This includes focusing on optimising key performance ratios and making improvements to energy indices with a support of process simulation and modelling. The overarching goal is to align with the quality plan for products, aiming to achieve the most favourable gross margins.

Can you describe a typical working day?

The day starts with gathering unit process monitoring parameters and reviewing the already developed trend cycle from the last 24 hours of operation, followed by a plant visit and daily morning meeting. All department representatives attend the morning meeting to discuss ongoing plant issues related to production, maintenance and inspections, which starts with a health and safety briefing. After that, a performance report is prepared and sent to operations and senior management representatives with recommendations, as part of our continuous process improvements..

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Being an effective engineer within a team presents its own set of challenges, demanding consistent daily proof of one's capabilities. During turnarounds, I take on the responsibility of leading the shift while also overseeing the process safety section, in addition to my regular duties. I've had the experience of participating in extended turnarounds on four occasions throughout my career, both in oil refinery and petrochemical plants, each serving as a valuable learning opportunity. These turnarounds require me to manage unconventional tasks such as catalyst unloading, loading, regeneration, and equipment inspections, all of which contribute to my professional growth.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?

Given that process engineering holds a pivotal role within the industry, I derive great satisfaction from conducting modest research utilising process simulation tools. A recent illustration of this involves utilising such tools to validate data and affirm the fundamental principles underpinning the initiation of a new unit's design. Occasionally, the process data received from the original equipment manufacturer is not entirely accurate and may contain minor discrepancies, necessitating review and potential revision.

For those adept in the art of process simulation, their expertise wields a significant impact. With the touch of their skilled hands on these simulation tools, they possess the potential to save millions of dollars for their employer. My historical background and the achievements throughout my career has had a significant impact on my process simulation skills.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
One of my most significant achievements involved creating a preliminary simulation model for a hydro skimming refinery in Pakistan. This model accurately mirrored the behaviour of the actual plant. Utilising the simulation, we conducted numerous crude assays to identify the most profitable ones. Subsequently, during real-world test runs, we successfully replicated the process conditions and yields predicted by the model. This harmonisation between the simulation and actual operations significantly contributed to the plant's profitability and long-term sustainability.

In the realm of petrochemicals, I applied Aspen Plus, a simulation software, to model a vent gas scrubber system for a vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plant. By analysing margins in relation to feed increments, I pinpointed opportunities for improvement. This strategic approach led to the plant achieving its highest-ever production levels. Additionally, I re-evaluated the conditions of a column that frequently experienced outages—approximately four or five times a year due to neoprene-related issues in the overhead system. After adjusting the column's process conditions, the plant experienced no further outages, resulting in substantial profits through savings in outage costs.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
Observing numerous engineers proudly displaying the post-nominal Charted Engineer on LinkedIn, I conducted research to uncover the benefits and recognition linked to professional registration. Recognising its worth for both career development and employment opportunities, I also realised the significant factor of personal satisfaction that comes with achieving such professional milestones.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
While CEng registration might not be widespread in Pakistan, I've received a positive response from young professionals who have shown keen interest in the process. Many have approached me seeking guidance on how to achieve this recognition. Being a CEng can enhance your opportunities to work internationally. Many countries and organisations recognise CEng as a standard of excellence, facilitating mobility across borders.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
I have developed a path for other engineers to follow and it will be very beneficial for the organisation to have more professionally recognised engineers. The kind of quality work I did for my past employers left an impactful mark on them and therefore justifies my professional registration.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Registration is evidence of your competence and will help progress your career. I would advise building your confidence and technical skills as your career progresses. As time passes, every new day will be a challenge for you. You just need to demonstrate your commitment and log your achievements, which will help you during your professional registration application. CEng status adds credibility to your professional profile. It demonstrates to employers, clients, and colleagues that you have achieved a high level of competence and are dedicated to the ethical and professional standards of the engineering field.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?

I will never stop achieving my learning goals and would like to see myself leading a team of process engineers in any organisation, with an objective of optimising the process and maximising profit.

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 go to the gym for physical fitness, enjoy electronic gaming, reading novels and watching Netflix. Some of the Netflix original series cover engineering work, and they are really worth watching.