Talk with Edgar Fernandez Oro (Process Engineer)

This week we introduce you to Edgar Fernàndez Oró. He is an alumni of IQS Barcelona with a BSc in Biotechnology and of Technical University of Denmark (DTU) with a MSc in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. He has also done an exchange semester at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore for his MSc. Edgar graduated in 2021 and is currently working as Engineer II within Process Analytics Team at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.

He is a recent graduate but has had ample work experience within both technical and non-technical areas. He has worked as an Intern at Novo Nordisk and then later at Fujifilm as Process Analyst Student Assistant. He has also written his MSc thesis in collaboration with Novo Nordisk and concluded it with remarkable results.

To say the least, Edgar may be a fresh graduate, but his work experience and knowledge makes him a tough competitor to any chemical engineer. He has not only gathered strong experience within process engineering, but instead has also garnered strong expertise within data science and programming.

We were lucky to have an interview with him, where we got a chance to learn more about him and his experience. So read his answers below to learn more about him.

Education

You did you BSc in Biotechnology and then MSc in Chemical Engineering? Were there any obstacles or difficulties in going from biotech into a mathematical intensive chemical engineering program?

In the beginning, I encountered a huge difference, especially in process engineering mathematics, but the obstacles I came across where the ones I really wanted to face when I made the decision on pursuing an engineering degree.

ChemE can be quite intensive, so what did you spend most time on during your degree?

Most of the time was spent on Project work. Also, I invested a lot of time on autonomous research in data science applied to biochemical engineering, which was complemented as well with my work at NN and Fujifilm.

Many people confuse ChemE with chemistry. So was there a lot of chemistry in your curriculum?

No, there was no chemistry in my degree. However, this is my specific case, DTU allows a great flexibility of courses, and there were some more chemistry-focused courses for those students who were interested in.

What topics did you find the most difficult during your degree?

Thesis was a challenging, but exciting times, and I would define it as one of the best moments of my degree. However, if I had to choose a difficult moment it was the first time I faced myself in front of a problem of fluid dynamics in the course of Transport processes.

What line did you choose to focus during your degree?

I had no defined line, but I did take courses within Data Science. I did not want to specialise myself in any area, but just discover what I liked. Therefore, I took courses from Biorefinery or Production of Biofuels to a special course in Modelling of fermentation processes.

How was your experience of doing a thesis with a company? How did you get the thesis topic? Did you contact directly the company or through university?

It was one of the best choices of my degree. It was a very last moment decision to take the thesis in Novo Nordisk. In January 2020 I was selected to attend the program of the Innovation Centre of Denmark in Silicon Valley to do my MSc thesis project in a company in San Francisco. However, the COVID-19 situation lead to a cancellation of the program on late July and I had to find a project fast. Fortunately, I had some contacts in the department of Biopharm Manufacturing Development of Novo Nordisk and I could find relatively easy a project that fit my expectations.

Did you get your degree from your home country or did you go abroad? How did influence your degree? Did you have a good learning experience?

I am originally from Spain, but I got my Degree from Denmark and did an exchange in Singapore during my MSc. Coming to Denmark it has been the best decision of my life as of today.

Did you have student jobs during or between your education? How did you get them? Where did you work? How did it help your education or future career?

Yes, I worked in Novo Nordisk, and got it through LinkedIn. It was a real boost in order to get experience in the industry

Work Experience

Which industry are you working in? How long have you been in this industry?

I am currently working within the Pharmaceutical industry, and have been within this industry for 2 years now.

What is your official title and in what company?

My official title is Engineer II at Process Analytics Team at FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.

What is your daily work routine like? What do you do at your job?

Provide, clean and connect data from the process to user interface

What are the typical tasks which you have to deal with?

Make models with data and projects for Manufacturing intelligence. Also, perform backend work that goes from getting real time data from manufacturing devices and transform into a shape that is suitable for scientific analysis.

What hard and soft skills are the most important for your job?

Hard: coding knowledge and process knowledge

Soft: good team work skills and communicative skills

What programming language do you use the most at your job? For what purpose?

For general purposes, Python is used. However, in the Pharma world, everything should be GMP and this is the reason why we usually use validated systems for backend purposes such as Statistica (TIBCO).

What is the best thing about your job?

The team, flexibility of working and the steep learning curve.

Which topics from your degree do you use the most on the workplace?

Process knowledge and experience in data science/modelling

How easy was it for you to change company and/or jobs if any?

It was relatively easy (got the job before graduating)

What are you future plans for your career? What does your current job allow you to do in future?

Planning to stay in the company for some years as they are expanding. My company is currently in expansion and I would like to see in which direction goes.

Any suggestions for future graduates? Something they should be doing while they are still in university getting their degree.

Try to find out what do they want to do in the future with three different ways:

1. Through special courses

2. Through internships/student jobs

3. Through the MSc thesis project

I would suggest to focus on data science as it is demanded everywhere nowadays.
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