Have you heard about Fluid Mechanics back in your university days? Its among the toughest subject for Mechanical Engineering graduate back then. Wasn’t it? Indeed it is true to most of the quaters! Well, today we are going to share about something that is related to the subject.
What is rotating equipment? Do they have subdiscipline like typical Mechanical Engineering did?
Rotating equipment is a term usually used in the industry to differentiate between static and rotating equipment. Rotating means there will be a moving parts within the equipment. The moving part function is mainly to add energy to the process medium to transfer it from location A to B. Rotating equipment consist of but not limited to gas turbines, compressors, pumps, internal combustion engines, generators, blowers and expanders.
In general, there is no sub discipline in rotating equipment. However, if you need to differentiate between the engineer’s involvement in rotating equipment, it can be divided into few categories such as design and engineering, operation and maintenance, field service engineers, reliability, condition based monitoring, instruments and control system, quality assurance and control, materials, project application engineers and many more.
What is your current role, day to day work looks like?
I’m currently undertaking the role under Technical Professional. In the current set up, there are two career ladders that one can pursue i.e. managerial and technical. The main difference would be salary! (no, I’m just kidding). Salary wise it will be more less similar as the managerial peers. Personally, I believe the main reason for me to choose the technical role was due to my passion in rotating equipment. I was graduated as a mechanical engineer majoring in automotive where I learned about internal combustion engine, thermodynamics and hydraulics from my university day; eventually it became applicable in your daily work. I believe that not many people would be lucky enough to be able to utilise their knowledge from university days into their daily work. I’m not saying that you must work as per what you’ve learnt in university. It is just an added bonus if you can have the luxury. Again, back to what you’re interested to pursue with and what you believe in.
Once you’ve chosen to go for managerial route, the chances are the majority of managerial position will no longer be related to rotating equipment. The good thing is; you can pursue your career in the company doing something new, broaden your horizon on the business and stuffs, as long as you enjoy doing it. Personally, I see no harm in going for either managerial or technical.
On the day to day work; my current role at the centre which is more on giving technical consultancy to the assets and rotating equipment users. It coincide with Industrial Revolution 4.0 , I am also involved with some digital initiatives related to rotating equipment.
Why did you choose to be a technical person instead of business who may strategise company for staff to work in?
Because I am a geek! No, again I’m just kidding 🙂 I’ve given half of the answer in previous question. Again, it goes back to chance of being able to work and do what you really enjoy to do. Imagine if your work is actually your own hobby. You may be able to achieve something that beyond imagination. Some people might say that it restricts your view since you may only be able to see from one perspective. However, being an all-rounder rotating equipment engineer will really benefits you as a person who can contribute towards the oil and gas industry.
Does your role involve making decision which will add value to business or purely technical?
As a technical professional, you need to be techno-commercial savvy. There is no point of coming out with a gold plated rotating equipment technical specifications, but end up with the company need to spend extra millions compared to its peers in procuring the similar rotating equipment. In order to strike the balance in between, both technical and business considerations are vital in decision making.
Can you suggest competency certificate for RE or any certification which is good to have for RE personnel?
Generally, you can pursue for Professional Engineers with BEM and IEM, which are non-specific for rotating engineers. On top of that, if you need to enhance on specific competency related to rotating equipment, you can also go for Vibration Analysis and Lube Oil Analysis certification, which are currently offered by local training providers.
On top of that, I would also recommend to attend specific technical courses offered by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) for their equipment such as gas turbines, centrifugal compressors, reciprocating compressors, engines and etc. Keep yourself updated with evolvement of rotating equipment by attending seminars and conferences. OEMs are known to conduct series of User Conference here in Malaysia, you should take the opportunity to increase your knowledge as well as build up your network to know the who’s who in the rotating equipment world.
What does it takes to be in RE?
First of all; stay humble. Be ready to learn from all levels, especially from the technicians as well as from the contractors. Never afraid to ask questions, and please get your hands dirty. Regardless you want to become a rotating, static, maintenance or any discipline engineers, the requirement is more or less the same. Always remember that we’re all humans, therefore never forget to embed the human elements as part of your daily work life.
How you may remain in one company until today without having any hesitance to jump at any opportunity which may arise?
For the past 15 years working for the company, I’ve been living as a “Rotating” engineer by being able to rotate myself within 5 different subsidiary companies. That gives me a wholesome perspective on the overall business horizon and able to maintain my self-motivation. At some point of your career, you might feel that you’ve achieved all and wants a new challenge. You cannot keep on doing the same thing all over again and again, thus your work might became routine and less motivating. Again, always talk and discuss with your superior and mentors on your career aspiration. The company might not be able to accommodate 100% of your needs, but at least your voice is heard and you’ve given your best shot in order to ensure your career is on the right path.
Is postgraduate study essential to have or compulsory to have for technical role as you are pursuing?
It is not a requirement to undergone postgraduate studies for the technical roles. However, having a professional credential and/or postgraduate studies might be an additional advantage on paper especially when you’re dealing with other multinational companies and international based clients.
These days, competition is very stiff. By having postgraduate study will it increase the probability of employment?
There is no right and wrong answer to pursue with postgraduate study. It depends on your nawaitu (intention) at the first place. I myself undertook my post graduate studies to proof myself that I can achieve the highest standard amongst all. I still remember way back in 2011, I was one of the pioneer in my department who have had pursuit with Professional Engineer certification. Upon completion, I did a series of sharings with the department on the route to become professional engineers. Basically I’m proud to say that as of today, there are lots of people who pursuit with the professional engineer in the department. Basically, it’s about raising the bar and becoming the role model for others to follow. Now, since professional engineers has became a norm, I need to recalibrate the bar to a higher level by completing my PhD.
For new employment, usually the requirement of postgraduate study is only applicable for those who’re involved in certain critical positions and working in research. Personally, I do believe that the postgraduate is an added advantage to a person in a long run, but not for immediate employment to jump the queue to for higher position. It requires a combination of other elements especially leadership to bring you to hold a higher position.
Normally, what is the range of salary for RE in operator, consultant and service company?
I wish I know the answer for this, then I would become Vice President of Human Resources for any reputable company 🙂 To be honest, I don’t have the data for this. It varies according to company set up, salary scale and workforce sizes. I would suggest for the rotating engineers to keep on checking on salary scale study conducted by various third parties such as HAYS, Jobstreets and etc.
With salary scale for recent graduates have been stagnant for the past 20 years, how do you foresee the future of rotating engineers in Malaysia?
Despite seeing the salary scale for entry level is almost similar as what I had during my earlier days,  I’ve survived my era and my time has passed. However, I’m also worried about what would happen in the future and what the future holds for my kids when they grow up later. Nevertheless, let’s not worry too much on things that we’re unable to control. Better to concentrate our energy on things that we can control, for example to increase our competency and advantages compared to others. I would see that additional skills such as programming, data analytics and 3rd/4th language are the real game changer for the future young engineering graduates. You have to build your own branding and reputation over a certain time period, high adaptability as well as eagerness to learn new things. Salary and rewards will come later InsyaAllah, be it with your current company or any other opportunities arise.
Do you have any advice to fellow Malaysian or recent graduate?
Work your socks off. There is never an easy path to become a competent engineer. Be prepare to start from the bottom and learn the hard way, because life as an engineer is a marathon, not as a sprinter.
Thank you very much for your time spent to share your thoughts with us! Hopefully you may be somebody in Malaysia in the future!
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