Talk with Emeli Gottrup Hansen (Chemical Engineer)

This week we had an opportunity to interview Emeli Gottrup Hansen. She is a competent graduate of BSc.Eng in Chemical and Bioengineering from the prestigious Technical University of Denmark from 2020 with impressive results and a robust and in-depth knowledge of core chemical engineering disciplines.

She has not limited herself to one aspect of chemical engineering, but has gained expertise in different fields, including production, process, environmental and membrane engineering. She has in-depth understanding of topics such as modelling, simulation and process designs. Hence, she has the ability to work as an all-rounder chemical engineer within any type of industry of her choice.

She doesn't only have the theoretical knowledge, but has had hand-on technical experience from working within the membrane industry in the company LiqTech International. She worked there as an intern and later wrote her BEng thesis with them. Due to her impeccable and competent skills, she was then hired as Junior Development Engineer.

Emeli is currently looking for employment within the industry, and given her competent and valuable skills and knowledge, any industry and company will be lucky to have her as a chemical engineer in their team.

Education Experience

As mentioned, Emeli is a graduate of BSc.Eng in Chemical and Bioengineering from the Technical University of Denmark in 2020.

How was the workload of your engineering degree?

The workload varied in the different semesters. In the start you must learn to be a university student, which required energy and you had to form some habits for how to study. Some courses required a lot of planning in the form of projects during the semester, but much of the workload was typically up to the exams. But of course, it is important to distribute the workload over the semester so that it does not become so intensive up to the exam.

Was there a lot of chemistry in your curriculum?

Yes and no, the education is mostly focused on optimizing chemical processes, process design and unit operations. But there are also courses in basic chemistry, such as organic and inorganic chemistry, general chemistry, and physical chemistry.

What topics were the most difficult in your opinion?

There is no doubt that mathematical models for chemical and biochemical systems are difficult, if you are not aware over the various factors in the beginning, it can be difficult to develop correct models to obtain a satisfactory result.

What line did you choose to focus during your degree?

It is not possible to select a specific focus area. But throughout the study, project work is integrated into the theoretical courses - chemistry, biotechnology, and technical chemistry - and the semesters' different subject areas and projects are linked.

This provides a lot of background knowledge in all areas. However, it has both engineering internships, a few optional courses and diploma engineering projects for specialization. For example, I have specialized in membrane technology within water filtration, as well as quality management.

How was the level of programming within your degree?

I have gained knowledge of MATLAB, LaTeX, ProII and worked with Macro in Excel. This helped to solve projects, and to get to know the programs to achieve successful simulations for a project description.

How was the study environment? Was it easy to get help from professors and classmates?

The study environment at DTU is focused on students feeling comfortable and thriving, and DTU lives up to that. At DTU, there is room for everyone, and the many committees and activities are constantly being developed to optimize the study environment.

In the courses, there is always the opportunity for help and to ask questions to the professor and there are always assistant teachers available when working on assignments and projects.

You have studied BSc.Eng and had to do an Internship during your studies? Where and How did you get that internship?

Yes, it is mandatory in the education that you take an internship. You can seek help from supervisors to get an internship, but it is mostly up to you to find an industry and send applications to the companies you find interesting. I think water filtration and water supply is an exciting area, so it made sense for me to send out applications to the companies that worked within that area.

What did you do during your internship period? Was your internship helpful in terms of getting some real life experience?

During my internship, I was assigned a project I was to work on in collaboration with my company supervisor. I learned a lot of things, both academically, better at articulating myself academically, as well as being part of a team in a company.

I learned a whole lot about what it is like to work in "real life", and how things are connected financially in relation to planning, and what it takes to achieve a satisfactory success.

Did you have any student jobs during your education? Could you tell a little about that?

After my internship I got a student job in the same place, and later wrote my diploma engineering project in collaboration with the company as well. Based on that, I gained a total of 1.5 years of experience in the field.

Throughout the period, I have spent a lot of my knowledge and my way of thinking in the job. My education is based on the learning method CDIO, where the vision is to: To educate students who understand how to. Conceive Design Implement Operate complex value-added engineering systems in. Which has been very useful in relation to the approach in a work task.

Work Experience

What was your first job after graduation and how did you get it?

My first position was in an R&D department at LiqTech International as a Junior Development Engineer, which I got as an extension of my diploma engineering project, but I was let go due to budget cuts due to Covid-19.

What industry do you wish to work in? Have you limited yourself to only engineering jobs or are you also interested in non-core jobs?

I have thought a lot about which industry I would like to work in, and I have found that it is the green conversion within heating, wastewater and drinking water that interests me the most. And it is quite clear where I see myself working it the rest of my working life.

However, I am open to all jobs that involve life cycles, filtering (UF, NF, RO) in productions.

What skills do you think you have gained from your chemical engineering education, which are vital for the industry?

I think I have gained many skills in the time I have studied, both soft- and hard skills, there are vital for the industry. I think the “top soft skills” I have gained is to act as a team player, flexible, and effective in communication, which can be great benefits to achieve an optimal working environment, and good results. As “top hard skills” can it be different for which industry, in my case it has been within material chemistry, and filtration techniques, as well as being able to communicate fluently orally and in writing in English. As well as being able to interact in the laboratory, with the reservations that belong.

Have you considered studying ahead to MSc.Eng? Do you think that having a MSc helps the chances of graduates?

As it stands right now, it's not my plan to read on. Of course, this is an advantage, but in my case, I would rather spend my energy, time, and youth working on something I really want to do, instead of acquiring knowledge I will not need in the long run. This may seem like a lazy approach, but since I am much more practically oriented as a person, this is the way I learn best.

Have you updated your portfolio after your graduation during your job search, such as took extra courses etc?

Unfortunately, no. I have strongly considered whether I should take project management at DTU, to acquire this knowledge, but since the costs are too great, I have chosen not to do so. But it is still in the consideration phase for whether I want to take any courses in advanced use of excel and / or other programs.

Do you think it has been difficult to find a job with a Chemical Engineering degree?

It is hard to be a recent graduate and must find the “first” job, as experience plays a big role, but it's hard for someone like me who is looking for experience and cannot get it until a job possibility comes. And especially due to Covid-19 has not been a great help.

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

Investigate which companies that employs chemical engineers so you will have a good understanding of the learning given in the education. As well as get a relevant student job as soon as possible to build up experience within the area to be able to build a nice CV, with experience.

What skills should they focus on during university years? It is up to the individual, research which skills are recommended in the area you think is exciting and choose courses and "specialization" based on that. The education opens up many different areas, both in research and optimization in production, so it depends a lot on which direction you want to work, in which skills are needed.
Keep the mood up, remember to have fun and someday you can make your own mark on the future.
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