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Chemical and Process Engineering Resources

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Category: Preparing to Become an Engineer
Question: I'm about to enter a chemical plant to do my summer internship, what advice would you offer?
Keywords: advice,summer,intership
Answer: Certainly look at the equipment. Ask for the equipment list and go around the plant and identify every single piece of equipment and spend some time with each piece of equipment. Gain an understanding of how it really works! In addition, learn as much as you can about how the industry works. For example, visit the Quality Control department and trace the flow of information. Read my feature article on SPC or Statistical Process Control and compare the methods I've discussed with how your plant operates. Gain an understanding of ISO9000 and ISO 14000 requirements (ask for a handbook)..be sure to put that on your resume too! Spend at least one week following around a process engineer because chances are that's where you'll start. Learn his/her daily routine. You should use this time to start to separate "how things are supposed to be done" from "how things are actually done". Learn about how the shipping works (what is required for products to leave the plant?). Oh, by the way...you'll want to start by learning the process of course, but that shouldn't take more than a few days (don't spend too much time on it). It would also be very beneficial to spend some time with the operators (the uneducated workers who really do things in the plant). Approach them with respect, remember that they don't understand WHY something would happen, but they do know that is WILL happen because they've seen it before. Explain why you're there and ask them if they mind some questions to help you learn. Ask them situational questions, "If the pressure gets to high in here, what can happen?", etc. Ask them what are the most common problems that occur with the process. You'll learn alot, and I commend you on trying to find out what to learn. Follow this advice and you'll really be prepared for your first job!
Links: Article on Statistical Process Control