Featured Story – The multisectoral skills of a heat transfer engineer

^ Naomi Jabbari, Professional Engineer for S&B ENGINEERS & CONSTRUCTORS

Article By Ellie Pritchard

Naomi Jabbari is a heat transfer engineer for S&B ENGINEERS AND CONSTRUCTORS, based in Houston, Texas, USA. Naomi’s role is vast and varied, ranging from equipment selection to thermal and mechanical design, and purchase ordering. Naomi is also the Chairperson for our Heat Exchanger World Americas Conference & Expo which will take place in Houston, Texas on 1st and 2nd December.

Naomi Jabbari draws from a background in mechanical engineering and a Master’s degree in energy studies to fulfil an extensive and varied role. “When I was taking my Bachelor’s degree, I realized I had a real interest in heat transfer, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. I finally settled on heat transfer and joined the oil and gas sector”, Naomi says. She has been working as a heat transfer engineer for 13 years and currently works for S&B ENGINEERS AND CONSTRUCTORS as a professional engineer. The company offers in-house engineering, procurement, direct-hire construction, and fabrication services to multiple industries across the US and beyond.

Petrochemical plant

Petrochemical plant

A connecting link

Naomi explains that there are many aspects to her role as heat transfer engineer. “I select the appropriate type of heat exchanger required for certain applications. There are more conventional types such as shell and tube exchangers, air coolers, hairpin and electric heaters – I do both thermal design and mechanical design for those exchangers. This means also composing mechanical documents and data sheets.” As well as this, Naomi also selects technical parts directly from suppliers as a requisition engineer, meaning that she is also responsible for sourcing appropriate producers and assessing their quality.
“I would describe my role as a connection between end users and manufacturers. I am connecting these two stages together by designing the exchangers, and then selecting specific equipment purchased from suppliers and manufacturers. I then provide the equipment to the end user, which is a refinery or petrochemical plant, for example.”

Unique design every time

Much of Naomi’s work is conducted through oil and gas or petrochemical projects in the down- and mid-stream sectors. The company can handle responsibilities from process engineering, mechanical engineering, piping, and inspection. It is this variety of projects that Naomi enjoys most.
“Working as a heat transfer engineer means that I am not limited to just one sector”, she explains. “Depending on the project requirements, I can apply my design and engineering skills to oil fractionation, or natural gas facilities, or petrochemical process units and biofuels.” But this range of work is also challenging, especially when switching between projects from different industries. “Different clients need different types of equipment for different processes, so we have to be familiar with all of these requirements and know the exact specifications,” Naomi says. “So it is challenging, but also it is very interesting. It is not a boring job; every part of the process is very unique. Each time I design an exchanger, it is different from the one before, I really enjoy that.”

Unique design every time

Much of Naomi’s work is conducted through oil and gas or petrochemical projects in the down- and mid-stream sectors. The company can handle responsibilities from process engineering, mechanical engineering, piping, and inspection. It is this variety of projects that Naomi enjoys most.
“Working as a heat transfer engineer means that I am not limited to just one sector”, she explains. “Depending on the project requirements, I can apply my design and engineering skills to oil fractionation, or natural gas facilities, or petrochemical process units and biofuels.” But this range of work is also challenging, especially when switching between projects from different industries. “Different clients need different types of equipment for different processes, so we have to be familiar with all of these requirements and know the exact specifications,” Naomi says. “So it is challenging, but also it is very interesting. It is not a boring job; every part of the process is very unique. Each time I design an exchanger, it is different from the one before, I really enjoy that.”
S&B Memorial Office

S&B Memorial Office

Heat Exchanger World Americas Conference and Expo 2021

It is a privilege to have Naomi Jabbari as our Chairperson for the Heat Exchanger World Americas event, held on 1st and 2nd of December this year. We asked about her expectations for the event and her advice to those attending for the first time.

Expectations

“Well, you know, the topic of heat transfer is always hot!”, she says.

“Conventional topics such as design of reboilers, condensers and singlephase fl ow exchangers are always interesting. But I would also like to see more discussion about new challenges in the industry, especially trial versions of renewable and reclaimed energy resources”. Naomi identifi es the energy transition as a pressing issue for her industry, but also a great opportunity for innovation. “This is the reality we are in. I am interested to see how this will change our heat exchanger designs and how new projects will affect the market for material selection, for example”.

As well as this, Naomi hopes that the conference will provide a platform for new kinds of projects relating to the biofuel sector, service requirements in the hydrogen industry, or cryogenic services in other natural gas projects. “These are the things I would like to know about. How these new requirements will change the market, heat exchanger design, material selection, and also the type of exchangers we will need.” She predicts that custom-made heat exchangers will become more necessary, rather than the standard, off-the-shelf products of today.

Good culture builds strong teams

It is not always easy for newly qualified engineers to break into their chosen industry. Although Naomi Jabbari has been working in the heat transfer industry for 13 years, she attributes her strong start in the sector to a good team of people who supported her both then and now in her current role. “S&B is a really good company with a very good culture,” she says. “People help each other a lot, and everybody tries to solve the problem. There is a good combination of very experienced people and a younger generation of engineers, who work together to build a strong working relationship”.

A hybrid skillset

A heat exchanger can appear in many forms and in many industries. For this reason, a heat transfer engineer is something of a multi-disciplinary role. Naomi goes on to explain how this position stands out from the rest of the engineering sector. “In this industry, most engineers are either pure thermal designer or pure mechanical designer, but for us, it is important to have knowledge from process engineering, thermal and mechanical engineering.”
In order to keep knowledge up to date in both areas, Naomi explains that she is always learning and finds good team connections to be complementary to doing the job well. “A heat transfer engineer has to have a good relationship with process, inspection, and piping teams and be able to coordinate all of them.”

More support for women in engineering

Naomi Jabbari is a well-qualified and professional asset to the world of heat transfer; her ability to navigate multiple sectors and apply her knowledge to bring projects to a successful end means that she is making strides. But it must be acknowledged that Naomi is part of a female minority in a largely male-dominated industry. “As a woman, you do often have to work a bit harder,” she says. “As a mother of two children, I sometimes face some difficulties in managing my work life and my personal life.”
Naomi explains that after her second child was born, she needed to take some time away from work, which was a very difficult decision to make. “It wasn’t easy for me to choose between two things that I love, my job and my children, but my family needed me at that time.” Naomi returned to her job one year later, but she acknowledges that this is not a decision that a male counterpart in her position would necessarily need to make. “I do feel that more support should be provided for women and especially for mothers”, she concludes.
welding

Heat Exchanger World Americas Conference and Expo 2021

Opportunities

Naomi expects the conference to be a meeting ground for industry professionals and a perfect place to pick up knowledge. “I am looking forward to the networking possibilities and to learning from experienced professionals in heat transfer and heat exchanger design.” As well as this, the event will enable manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their capabilities and the ways in which they manufacture heat exchangers. “It will be a great opportunity for end users and companies from all sectors, such as oil and gas, chemical, petrochemical. Also, renewable energy companies, EPC contractors, manufacturers – it is good for them to all come together and learn from each other,” says Naomi.
They can come away from an event like this knowing the expectations and the requirements in their markets. It will be a great opportunity for everyone post-COVID.”

Advice for new attendees

For many, entering a conference for the first time (or even the tenth time) can be overwhelming. But Naomi suggests a few ways to integrate themselves into the event and get the most from their time there. “I would advise everyone, especially young engineers and new attendees to join the technical forums and discussions – come with your questions, new ideas, and share them with these experienced professionals”.
And for those younger engineers who may wish to contribute during forums, but are uncertain of their qualifications to do so, Naomi speaks to them directly: “Don’t be nervous, come and ask questions; you always have very good ideas, and you always help us to think again, re-learn and review what we know. Your questions help to challenge experienced people.”

About this Featured Story

This Featured Story is an abstract of the 4 page Featured Story in our Heat Echanger World Magazine. To read the full Featured Story and many more articles, subscribe to our print magazine.

“Every two weeks we share a new Featured Story with our Heat Exchangers World community. Here you can find here the online abstract, and you can access the full story in our print magazine. Join us and let’s share your Featured Story on Heat Exchangers World online and in print.”

FEATURED STORY BY ELLIE PRITCHARD

All images were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic, or in compliance with social distancing.

Read the full article.

Previous articleMaire’s subsidiaries work on power-to-fertilizer plant
Next articleFeatured Story – Marc Simoens: a custodian
Heat Exchanger World is a leading international magazine covering all aspects of the product supply chain of heat exchangers. Heat Exchanger World is part of the KCI Group of Companies. We are a leading knowledge, communication and information company connecting business-to-business professionals by building and sustaining global communities, solving their information needs and helping them to develop their professional life and friendships.