Take on water – Features


Sofia Georgaki describes her role as a process leader at Jacobs, an engineering major.

IN THIS series, we reach out to chemical engineers working outside the fossil fuel sectors to highlight the breadth of opportunities open to those just starting out in their careers or looking to change sectors.

Sofia Georgaki is Process Manager at Jacobs, Engineering Major. She graduated in Chemical Engineering from South Bank University and completed a PhD in Odor Treatment and Control at Cranfield University before working in the water industry as a researcher and in various engineering roles. ‘engineering.

What are the main responsibilities in your current role?

“I lead the team responsible for designing the ventilation and odor control system for the Thames Tideway tunnels. It is the largest combined sewage overflow control system in the UK and one of the most complex designs that Jacobs has made.

“A variety of chemical engineering principles are applied in my day-to-day role, including the design of process assets applied to wastewater treatment and odor control using first engineering principles. Either by performing modeling studies to identify a problem, understand a process and the issues associated with it, and provide a technical solution that is beneficial from a social, economic and environmental point of view.

“I manage all ventilation studies for the Thames Tideway tunnels and other Jacobs projects, including sewer process modelling, corrosion modelling, air movement modeling and analysis and studies dispersion modeling.

“I provide technical expertise within the team and identify and communicate potential design risks and actions needed to mitigate them. I also coach staff, including graduate engineers, on ventilation and odor control.

“I have also represented Jacobs at internal and external workshops and participated in tenders for projects in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada.”

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

“Having worked on a variety of projects in the water industry over the past 20 years, the most rewarding part of my role as a chemical engineer is taking a project from inception of planning through to completion. design and completion phase.

How does your role contribute to helping solve major societal challenges?

“The aim of my work on the Thames Tideway Tunnels project is to reduce the number of sewage discharges into the Thames. The aim is to collect waste water before it enters the river, to clean up the river and improve water quality for future generations of London. It will also help prevent fish kills and allow the river to support a rich and diverse wildlife.

“There are many other benefits, such as improving the quality of life for everyone in London and increasing opportunities for recreational use of the river. The project aims to encourage as many people as possible to share the benefits and getting closer to the river, whether by walking, fishing, rowing, boating or simply turning to face the river, reconnecting London to the Thames is fundamental to our vision.

“I am also contributing to the goal of providing a quality education by engaging schoolchildren in London to encourage the next generation to embrace STEM subjects and champion careers in engineering and construction. Over the past year, the Tideway Project has engaged approximately 3,000 young people, bringing its STEM curriculum online during the pandemic.

What are the key challenges in your industry that chemical/process engineers are well equipped to help address?

“Achieving net zero is one of the biggest challenges for the water industry. Although this is an ambitious commitment, chemical engineers have all the necessary skills to reduce the consumption of natural resources and face the threat of climate change. This can be achieved by applying the principles of chemical engineering to contribute to the following: maximizing the use of renewable energy by generating enough solar and wind power to meet 80% of the electricity needs of the water sector; produce more biogas from recycled waste water, which can be injected into the grid to heat homes or used as an alternative fuel for transport; use advanced anaerobic digestion for wastewater treatment to reduce process emissions; and the use of electric or alternative fuels to power our fleet vehicles and utility vehicles. »

What skills in chemistry/process engineering are in demand in your sector?

“Process design skills, process modeling skills, a good understanding of fundamental chemical engineering theories including mass and heat transfer theories are all skills transferable to design and operation water, wastewater and odor control processes. Additional chemical engineering skills and expertise that can easily be applied in the water sector include the application of DSEAR regulations and HAZOP studies, risk assessments, the use of process and piping diagrams and of instruments. A number of theories applied to the design of reactors and gas absorption vessels are also used when sizing odor control equipment.

What advice would you give to a recent graduate or early career chemical engineer who wants to work in your industry?

“In recent years, the water industry has attracted particular attention with the arrival of more chemical engineering graduates. My advice to a graduate chemical engineer joining the water industry would be to try to gain experience in key areas such as water and wastewater design, odor control design, risk assessments and HAZOP studies. This could be done by joining a company with an IChemE Accredited Corporate Training Program (ACTS) that provides graduates with the right kind of training and experience during their initial professional development. This will also be useful when applying for a charter at a later stage in your career. »

Georgaki: Achieving net zero is one of the biggest challenges for the water industry.

When you applied for a position in the water industry, what specific aspects of chemical engineering did you highlight to show that you were the best candidate?

“To apply for a non-traditional role, it was necessary to justify that the first principles applied in chemical engineering were transferable to ensure the realization of the project. An example is my involvement in the development and design of 23 odor control plants as part of the Thames Tideway Tunnel system.

“The water sector is a dynamic and incredibly exciting place to work. As part of our Process Discipline team, we provide customer solutions to the water sectors in the UK and Ireland, as well as European and global markets. If you are a chemical engineer looking to provide connected, sustainable and innovative water solutions to help meet the growing challenges posed by the climate crisis and population growth, why not join us?

To read more articles in this series, visit https://www.thechemicalengineer.com/tags/career-paths


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