Life of an Engineer – Nameer Al Khafaf
Nameer is a certified Project Management Associate and the IEEE Victorian Section representative on the joint Australian Oceanic Engineering Society. Nameer has previously worked as project engineer for Shell, Amana Contracting & Steel Buildings, and other consultancies.
“One of the great attractions of engineering work is the huge variety of tasks and environments in which engineers find themselves working.”
“One of the great attractions of engineering work in the huge variety of tasks and environments in which engineers find themselves working” (Engineers Australia)1. From supervising building services execution on site and overseeing engineering and design for major oil fields like Majnoon Oilfield in Iraq to volunteering to represent IEEE Victorian Section to the Oceanic Engineering Society Chapter – there are many ways to be an engineer” say Nameer.
I graduated from the American University of Sharjah on January 2012 as an Electrical Engineer. From that time I always wanted to work in design and engineering believing it’s a core experience every electrical engineer must have. However since the building services industry was huge in United Arab Emirates I managed to secure my first job in Building Services and Construction. I worked on Soundstages Commercial Project in Dubai Studio City (figure1). Although I kept trying to hook myself to another industry but it was very difficult due to market conditions at the time.
“The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.”(Thomas J. Watson). After one year of working in the building services I was offered a Project Engineering position in the oil and gas industry with Shell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The work environment was very challenging, dynamic and fast paced. Fortunately it was the sort of experience I was looking for. Working on portfolio of projects from facility turnaround to engineering electrification and water projects gave me a glimpse of the various project life cycle stages. One of the important aspects for engineers to develop through their career is a safety mindset both in personal and professional life, which I learned during my experience with Shell.
“The way to succeed is to double your failure rate”
Perhaps the most interesting non engineering experience I had was during the commuting from Majnoon Oil Field to Basra International Airport in an armoured Vehicle and a Bullet Proof vest (figure 2).
As the oil and gas industry started to deteriorate due to the decline in oil prices in late 2014, most projects were cut down from portfolio of more than 50 projects to less than 5 projects. The Dubai office was downsized significantly and I was offered a permanent position in Iraq. Looking at the current industry conditions at the time and analysing the future prospect of it I rejected the offer and my contract with the Shell Group ended on July 2015. By this time my plans to move and settle in Australia was finalised and I decided to move to Melbourne in October 2015.
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” (Peter Drucker). I started a work experience in industrial control and automation with Ramdraft Industrial Automation in Melbourne in December 2015 to keep my engineering skills going while at the same time learn the Australian Standards in the industry as well as the working environment. Concurrently I decided to further advance my technical knowledge through a Masters Degree at RMIT University. Then I updated my IEEE membership details to the Victorian Section. It was at this time when I received an email from Eddie Custovic looking for a Victorian Representative to the Oceanic Engineering Society. I was an IEEE member since 2009; however volunteering opportunities were limited in United Arab Emirates.
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
As I had different experience across different engineering industries while at the same time seeking to advance my technical knowledge at a Master Level I felt this will drive me to bridge the gap between industry and academic professionals. I became the Victorian Section Representative to the Oceanic Engineering Society Chapter (OES) in April. The OES field of Interest includes all aspects of science, engineering, and technology that address research, development, and operations pertaining to all bodies of water. This includes the creation of new capabilities and technologies from concept design through prototypes, testing, and operational systems to sense, explore, understand, develop, use, and responsibly manage natural resources.
One of the interesting topics in Oceanic Engineering is in the application of Underwater Imaging. A conventional camera can be used underwater to capture pictures and videos after which processing can be used to provide image scaling and measurements, identification and assessment and analysis.
Summing up, opportunities for engineers are unlimited whether through work experience or volunteering as long as engineers keep looking for them and never give up.