Senior Operations Support Engineer
University of Michigan, BSE Chemical Engineering
University of Michigan, M.S.E Energy Systems Engineering
Tropical Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (T-HUET)
My current home address is in Houston, Texas, but my work location is a platform called “Ursa” that sits about 100 miles off of the coast of Louisiana in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. I work what’s called a 14/14 rotation, which is 14 days working on the platform and then 14 days of vacation. Because I live in Houston, Texas but work on a platform in the middle of the GoM, my commute to work looks like a plane ride from the Houston airport to the New Orleans airport, a drive from the New Orleans airport to the Shell heliport, and a helicopter ride to the platform, where I begin my 14 days of work!
The platform I work on is the largest producing oil and gas platform in the western hemisphere, so it’s a significant contributor to our bottom line! “Supporting operations” is a catch-all term used to describe the bucket of things I do, which includes anything that comes up in the day-to-day operation of the platform that could impact safety or production. The reason we need an engineer to support operations is because something comes up – disrupting the platform from just running along without our help – often enough that it’s worthwhile to have someone full-time on standby ready to help address these uncertainties, and to help plan for the future in hopes that less of these uncertainties will continue.
I previously worked on deepwater projects doing things similar to what we did in school, but with less hand-written calculations. Because deepwater has large temperature and pressure differentials (ex – the ocean floor is very cold, but the oil coming out of the ground is very hot) and incredibly high pressures, there’s a lot of unique engineering work that needed to be done to get oil out of the ground safely. After that, I helped deliver new technology — a multiphase pump that now sits on the ocean floor — for the deepest oil and gas project in the world (Stones). As the Stones team’s project engineer, I integrated across disciplines to support effective management of risk, schedule, cost/benefit tradeoffs, and project assurance.
Though I am a Shell employee, I’m not speaking on behalf of Shell. My views are my own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Shell.
What excites you about your career?
I have 6 months of vacation each year, because I work the 14-day rotation. I travel a lot on my two weeks off, so I’ve been abroad a bit and have also caught up with my college friends who are spread throughout the country. I like that I have the opportunity to use what I learned in school. At Shell you can be almost anywhere on the spectrum from technical number cruncher to broad strategist, and I liked the flexibility. I also like that we have a development program for new hires that let you see different areas and work on different things – hence why I’ve had three jobs in three years!
Time Spent at U-M
I like that as a ChE I can be hired at pretty much any company I’m interested in and that Michigan prepared me well for technical and leadership roles. Michigan is well-respected in the recruitment circuit, so it made it easier for me to be choosy with where I worked instead of feeling like I had to take the first role offered to me.
I loved being on Resstaff and being involved with the Program for Intergroup Relations — it was probably my most helpful course I took and prepared me well for interacting with people who are different than me.
Favorite Student Orgs
I was a Managing Editor at the Michigan Daily. I love writing (great non-technical outlet that allowed me to express myself!) and have continued that passion to this day, though in a different form.
Advice to Students
Lift as you climb. I think it’s easy for us engineers to always chase the next shiny object be it a promotion or a penthouse – we are very privileged to generally be well-paid and well-respected for our contributions to society. But others aren’t always so lucky. I think most of us have the capacity to give back and help make the world a little easier on those who come alongside and after us. I’d encourage everyone who has privilege to use it to help create the world you want to see in every area that you can.
Join one (or several) student org that you know very little about – and join it in a meaningful sense. Don’t just go to one meeting and then leave. When I was in school, I joined the Indian American Students Association and was in their annual IASA show, I was in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, I went to Malaysian Culture shows, volunteered through the Detroit Partnership, participated in #UMDIVEST and more. It was uncomfortable at first, because everyone else seemed to know each other and I was the odd person out with no visible or easy-to-articulate similarity with everyone else. But these were my most growth inducing experiences and prepared me incredibly well to work at a large, diverse company like Shell.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I compete in Story Slams and love NPR’s the Moth, belong to a gym, am currently preparing for my first-ever back-country camping trip where I’ll have to carry all of my food, water, and shelter on my back as we attempt a 30+ mile hike over several days, and like to tutor middle/high school students in math. Given my schedule and all the vacation I have, I also travel a lot!