Author: Varun Shankar
I am on placement with Shell Global Solutions based in Canary Wharf, London.
I have a Research and Development role under the Fuel Technology team.
One may wonder, as I did initially, what an engineer to be can do working with Fuel Scientists. So here is a brief overview of what I do. I work under two project supervisors (both not placed in London) who work on gasoline innovation and development. I work on computer models based on different programming platforms (visual basic for excel, python, Matlab, Chemkin pro, etc) that are used to calculate the combustion properties. These include fuel octane numbers, density, vapour pressure and many more. Some of the calculations are based on thermodynamic equations whilst others are performed through chemical kinetics modelling of fundamental reactions that occur during combustion. My role is to apply these models to numerous fuel blend compositions looking for the optimal composition to achieve certain blend properties as well as observe trends. I also work on continually improving the models for better accuracy in comparison to how the real fuel blend reacts. These studies are reported to a Shell internal archive.
Shell is a globally known organisation in the Energy Industry. To meet the steep increase in energy demand, Shell has invested in innovative thinking to make that energy go further, and finder cleaner energy solutions for a low-carbon future. They collaborate with various forward-thinking organisations and sponsor major events such as The Big Bang UK Young and Scientists & Engineers Fair. Shell promotes Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering (STEM) education and currently offer 9 programmes which foster skills that will support economic growth and transition into the low carbon future. Shell also annually organise Make the Future Live event which includes four days exploring solutions to energy demand challenge, celebrating ingenuity and bold new thinking. At this event, the Shell Eco-marathon race take place, where student teams and their vehicles complete in one of the world’s greatest ultra-energy-efficient challenge.
Even though we are interns, we are given the opportunity to be a Shell ambassador at these events. I volunteered to help at the Shell stand at the Big Bang Fair, as well as be part of a technical inspection team in Make the Future Live event. These events are great additional activities a student on placement can and should take advantage of. The events are an amazing platform to network, learn, and inspire the younger generations to pursue a STEM career.
It is also a great opportunity to be a Bath ambassador and liaise with many individuals who are advocates of doing a placement year and the advantages of it.
The UK government are leading a Year of Engineering campaign this year, celebrating the world and wonder of engineering, boosting it across the UK, and ensuring everyone has the skills needed to thrive in a modern economy. This campaign had a major influence in the Big Bang Fair. As part of this, I was requested to do an interview to hosts of the Big Bang Fair explaining the importance of the campaign and fair, Shell’s role at the fair, and my experience of volunteering at the fair. It was an amazing opportunity to be a Shell and Bath ambassador advocating the Year of Engineering campaign by the government. I featured in their highlights video (link below), looking very serious in comparison to the other interviews probably illustrating how sincere every word was. It was great to see little kids so interested and excited by what we had to offer at the stand, eager to learn more, and think creatively.
From simply signing up to volunteer at the stand to featuring in the fair’s video was great but would not have been possible if I had not taken the initial step to do additional activities during my placement year. I would highly recommend signing up to the all the different mailing lists promoting such events and actively participating in them.