Talk with Jeferson Costa (Experience ChemE and Consultant)

This week, we introduce you to Jeferson Costa, a chemical process engineer and a renowned educator. He has a diploma from Faculdade de Engenharia Química de Lorena with Industrial Engineer Chemistry BSc from March 2006. Furthemore, he has pos graduationg diploma in Chemical Process Engineering from Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC-Rio) from 2011.

He has worked within many technical and engineering roles throughout his career. Therefore undoubtedly, he has a robust and in-depth understanding of chemical engineering topics and their real life applications. To name a few of his roles, he has worked as Process Engineer for renowned companies such as PCE Engenharia and Braskem. Later as Sr. Process Engineer for Praxair, and then as a Consultant for Costa Chaves Engenharia. Currently, Jeferson is working as Efficiency Operation Engineer and also the founder and Process Engineer at his own consultancy company called Costa Chaves Engenharia e Inspecao in Brazil.

Jeferson is not just a chemical engineer but also a teacher and entrepreneur. He has already joined 100 students under his supervision in the first year of his training program Inprocess Booster, more than 10k subscribers on his YouTube, and is a founder of his own consultancy firm. Therefore, he is undoubtedly a very competent and experience chemical engineer, having both theoretical and practical experience. He is a role model for young engineers and we were lucky to have a chance to talk to him. Do read his answers below to learn about his education and career.

Education

What motivated you to study Chemical Engineering?

I was not very sure about what I was doing. My father suggested me to enroll exam to chemical engineering and I accepted the challenge. I passed the exam and decided that I would not give up until I got my diploma in BSc Industrial Engineer Chemistry.

How was the workload of your degree? What did you spend most time on?

I started as full dedication but in the second year I transferred to a night class because I started a job as an attendant. I spent most time in the job. So during the day I worked as an attendant in the municipal drugstore, and during the night I did my bachelor degree. This was my routine for 5 years.

Was there a lot of chemistry in your curriculum?

Not exactly. Inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, labs, biochemistry etc. Probably around 25% of the course. It was much more focused on unit operation. In the first 2 years I have seen a lot of calculus also.

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

Algebra. At that time, it was hard to do calculation with letter instead of numbers.

What line did you choose to focus during your degree? Why? (Process Engineering, Catalysis, Modelling, Environmental Engineering etc)

During my degree I was too lost to focus on something. The University prepared us to be generalists. I only get in love with process engineering in my first job. Besides the ups and downs we keep married since than.

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?

No. I did not have student job. I worked as an employee to the local government. I got this position after passing in an public exam at the first position. This work helped me to learn how to deal with people. To be able to get my diploma, I did 3 months training in the municipal water treatment plant while I was still working as an attendant. My boss in the municipal drugstore was really great to me.

Work Experience

Which industry do you work in? How long have you been in this industry?

Currently I work in the energy industry dealing with biomethane from landfill and biodigester, however I started in a polypropylene plant in 2007 and after that, I worked with cryogenic industrial gases separation including oxygen, nitrogen and argon production. Besides that, I participated in steam methane reformer projects for hydrogen production and CO2 liquefaction plants. All this time I have been working with chemical process engineering and plant design.

What is your official title and in what company?

Currently I am Efficiency Operation Engineer employee in a energy company. Besides that, I am the owner of my own consultancy company Costa Chaves Engenharia.

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

My routine includes a series of meetings, problem solving, manage Operation department and Design department interface, as well as, deal with Business department requirements. Moreover, I need to get in touch with local and international supplier and stay alert to the technologies involving biogas and biomethane production.

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

Engineering deliverable like process simulation, piping and instrumentation diagram, process/specification datasheet, safety review, reports, document review from vendors and other disciplines etc.

How was your workplace? Did you had to spend all the time on the plant or was it a mix of office/lab/plant?

I have a mix of plant and office experience. Altough I always worked with plant design and it is basically done in the office, for most projects I had the opportunity to go to the field to participate in the commissioning and startup phase of the plant. Based on that, I can say that I expend around 85% of my time in the office and the rest going to the field. This routine allowed me to visit many places not only in Brazil but also in South America and China.

Could you tell us a little about your consultancy firm? What sort of tasks do you have to deal with?

My consultancy firm deals with chemical process engineering documents to plant design. For instance, I do heat and material balance in process simulation software, develop process flow diagram (PFD) and piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID), process safety analysis, line list, instrumentation list, process description etc. In summary, I deal with chemical process engineer roles in the conceptual, basic and detailing engineering of a project.

You are also an educator to teach young chemical engineers? Could you tell us a little about that? Where can we see those videos?

Since I finished my bachelor degree and start working in plant design I realized that students do not learn the real roles and responsabilities of a chemical process enginer in plant design. Based on that, I decided to share my experience first on Linkedin and now it covers YouTube also. In my point of view, if a young chemical engineer wants to get familiar with chemical process engineering and plant design my YouTube channel “The chemical process engineer and plant design” is the best place to find that, however, if chemical engineer wants to give the next step and understand how to use process simulation to do plant design, enrolling to my training program Inprocess Booster is a great option. All links and information available at www.jefersoncosta.com.

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

Hard skills include process simulation on aspen hysys, engineering drawings in autocad and microsoft visio, microsoft office package and related vendors software for control valve, pressure safety devices etc. Most important soft skills, in my point of view, include persuasion, rapport, communication and oratory.

What is the best thing about your job?

Deal with plant design and problem solving using chemical process engineering fundamentals.

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

Thermodynamics and fluid flow is the fundamentals I use most to solve job problems.

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

I am loyal to the company and job change is not easy to me. On the other hand, plant design depends a lot of economic growth and investments, and because of that, I was forced to change companies during my career.

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

My plans to the future is keep sharing my experience in the internet in a way that I got known by my expertise worldwide, I do not need to go after job but job comes to me and I have under my supervision 1,000 students/year in my inprocess booster training programs.

What motivated you to start your teaching? Do you do it full-time as a career or as a part-time basis?

I almost give up from beeing a chemical process engineer in 2017/2018. I was staggnated on my job and because of economic crisis in Brazil the company did a downsizing and I was fired after 7 years in the company. To my surprise, 6 months later my previous boss invited me to go to China to do a consultancy to the process engineering department in Shanghai. I expended around 3 months living in Shanghai, and after a self evaluation of my objectives, I am realized that I could be internationally know by my expertise and have jobs looking for me if I started sharing my knowledge and teaching people what I do best, chemical proccess engineering and plant design. Since than, it is my driving force.

Currently, my routine includes working as an employee to an Energy Company from 9 Am to 6 Pm, Monday to Friday. Use the traffic hour to study chemical process engineering subjects but also digital marketing, selling, video edition and soft skills. Get part of my free time to prepare free content to social medial, including regularly live session to my YouTube channel and also record new content to my training program and support my studends.

I really love to work as a chemical process engineer, so for now, although my busy calendar, I do not have plans to dedicate myself only for teaching.

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

It was in an EPC company to work as chemical process engineer. The company manager needed to show a process engineer to the customer and I was in the right time and place. I was not afraid of being the only chemical engineer in the company and doing a lot of tasks not straigh associated to my job position.

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

Chemical process engineering is much more than just calculation. To have success in their career they must improve their inner skills to support the pressure and life challenges, and external skills to build connection with people.

What skills should they focus on during university years? Oratory is one of the most important thing in your career. Be comfortable exposing yourself to the public in real life and online.
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