Andres Onu

Project Manager, Chemical Eng. Laporte Engineering Inc.

I was born/grew up in: Born, Quebec City. Raised in Ottawa, Canada.

I now live in: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I completed my training/education at: University of Ottawa for Engineering. I also have on the job training from different jobs working in big chemistry and design.

Describe what you do at work.

My days are a healthy mix of project management and technical design in process design for the sake of food manufacturing. Specifically in the dairy process. The technical side of the work includes the use of specialized design and calculation software. I use my knowledge of the processes of flows, pressure drop, heat exchange, and fluid properties on a regular basis. Problems in the food manufacturing industry are mainly due to issues with energy resources and with installations in old buildings that need to improve. The real challenge is making changes to operations that operate 24/7.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

The responsibility in my role, like many engineers, is to improve things invisibly. When an improvement is made it often affects thousands or millions of people in their day to day lives. It's fun to give people a glimpse into what goes into the products they consume and often take for granted.

What motivates you in your career?

Interesting problems and interesting people motivate me. The exact problem and the exact people rarely matter. "Engineering" can be a catch all term for a career where information needs to be mined and analyzed to make practical decisions and implement them. The variety is often what drives me forward.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

My decisions to do with career were not sound. High school was a social time for me. But I was drawn to chemistry in school and to mechanics outside of school. Chemical engineering sounded like a good combination. The reality is very different from that, but the framework of my interests still applies. All told, what I found most useful in all my education, extra-curriculars, training and jobs is that the more cross-training and inter-disciplinary knowledge I could bring to the table, the more value I could give. There are distinct times when electrical engineers would praise me for my ability to ask dumb questions, simply because no one else had thought ask them, and allow a solution to be discovered.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

Hockey, barbell training, nuclear power options, science shows and documentaries. Home experiments with my kids and anyone else who'll stay still for 3 minutes. Motorcycles riding when time allows.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Think of 10 problems that 1 billion people need solved and determine which education might help you with that. Speak to 3 people in each industry you are interested in who are 5-10 years ahead of you and interview them for what they are doing and how they got there. .

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