Alejandro Jimenez graduated from the MSc in Safety, Risk & Reliability Engineering programme in 2014. He now works as a Risk Consultant for Environmental Resources Management (ERM) in Houston, Texas, USA.
Can you tell us about where you work and describe your role?
I work for Environmental Resources Management at the Houston Office in Risk Management. I provide support to clients in projects in the Oil & Gas area. I have performed specific studies for clients such as QRAs, Fire Risk Assessment, Toxic Dispersion Analysis, Plan Sitting Analysis and developing Safety Critical Elements and Performance Standards for diverse clients and areas in Oil & Gas. At the moment I am assigned to the Shell Pipeline as a full time HSSE/Technical Safety Advisor.
Why did you choose Heriot-Watt and the programme that you studied?
Heriot-Watt provided me with the flexibility that I needed. The majority of the universities require attending classes physically, which was really difficult for me. By studying via Independent Distance Learning at Heriot-Watt I could study at my own time and in any part of the world without losing quality and support. In my case that helped me a lot, because I was moving around the world, so I managed to study and present my exams from the UK, Venezuela and the USA.
What was your experience of doing a degree at Heriot-Watt University?
My experience at Heriot-Watt was great; I did the degree at my own time without losing quality. Although it was a little stressful at times as working, doing the degree and having a kid at the same time is not easy, but I managed to do everything with the support of the staff.
How has your degree helped you in your profession?
First of all, having a university that supported my knowledge has been great. Also, the reaction of people when I tell them that I graduated from Heriot-Watt is really good. In other aspects, the program allowed me to see other areas in safety that I wasn't familiar with and which allowed me to have other points of views that are sometimes relevant to the projects. For example, having knowledge of Reliability has helped me to see how systems can behave and fail, providing me with more understanding of the problem to help solving it.
Another aspect of the program that has helped me is the Human Factor (HF) point of view. Before studying the HF module I thought that HF was only about ergonomics and health issues, but thanks to this module I have been able to see options to reduce impact because of Human system interaction.
Do you have any advice for students interested in working in your field?
It is important that you understand the operation or design to properly advice on safety features. For example, in order to understand the possible consequence of a fire you need to understand what the equipment is doing and the characteristics of the fluids inside the equipment. In that sense sometime you have to research the process to understand it, sometimes you just need to sit with the process engineers to see exactly what the design is. So, acknowledge that you do not know everything, know that inputs form others are really valuable and that every day there is something new to learn.
My experience at Heriot-Watt was great; I did the degree at my own time without losing quality.