02 June 2003 00:00 [Source: ICB]
The CV: Helen Marson
Date of birth: 21 November 1975
University: Loughborough, UK
Degree: Bachelor of Engineering with diploma in industrial studies
Position: operations process safety engineer
Employer: Air Products and chemicals
A visit as a teenager to what was ICI's Savlon plant in Avonmouth, UK, was what inspired Helen Marson to choose a career in chemical engineering.
Marson said that during the trip: 'I was smitten by the way you can force nature to do things it does not want to do to create something useful.' Having a chemistry teacher who was an ex-ICI employee also helped to motivate her.
She works throughout Europe for Air Products and has helped develop the recruitment concept of 'industry days'. These days have led directly to chemical engineering graduates applying for jobs with Air Products, which is a member of the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association.
Marson chairs its graduate committee, which developed 'industry days'. Final year students are put into groups of five or six. They then compete with each other to manage a simulated chemical plant construction project in the most cost-effective way. The students go through the whole process from bidding to plant start-up and handover. It was piloted last January at Loughborough University, UK, and is now being rolled out to other institutions.
'The feedback was excellent. A lot of students thought we just do boring design work - they did not realise the range of jobs available,' says Marson.
Young people are not choosing the chemical industry because, she says: 'It's not sexy right now - with the Internet boom everyone wants to be a web designer. Chemical engineers get direct opportunities to improve the quality of people's lives. You don't achieve that as a web designer.'
In her current role, Marson examines plant designs or modifications to ensure that all safety systems are in place. Previously she was an operation process engineer and implemented projects which save Air Products $350 000 annually.
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