Mechanical Engineering graduates find jobs in many different sectors. Read about Thijs Bouten’s experienceS. Thijs graduated in 2013 and now works as a Combustion Engineer at OPRA Turbines.
COULD YOU BRIEFLY DESCRIBE THE COMPANY YOU WORK AT AND WHAT YOUR ROLE IS?
Hi, I am Thijs Bouten. I work at OPRA Turbines, a company that builds gas turbines of 2 MW and higher. These turbines, combined with a generator, are used to supply energy at different locations, for example, in gas fields, on oil platforms, in different industries and at the 2014 Winter Olympics. As a combustion engineer, my job is to make sure that it is technically possible to burn the client’s fuel, which can vary from diesel and natural gas to flare gas and other bio-fuels. Experimental validation plays a big part.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE MECHANICAL ENGINEERING PROGRAMME AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE?
I chose Mechanical Engineering at the University of Twente because of the broad range of possibilities this programme offers. Wherever you look, from the smallest screw to the biggest oil platform, you come across Mechanical Engineering. The Mechanical Engineering programme at the University of Twente provides you with the necessary technical foundation and depth.
WHAT ARE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY RESPONSIBILITIES WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION?
I do something different every day; no two days are the same. My responsibilities include technical support for the sales department, making CFD models (Computation Fluid Dynamics: simulating currents with the help of a computer) and testing different and difficult fuels in our combustion laboratory or in a gas turbine.
COULD YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF AN ACTIVITY AND/OR A PROJECT IN WHICH YOU PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE?
One project that I am working on is developing combustion technology for bio-gas. An important part of this process is to first make an inventory of what is already known and has already been done in this field. On the one hand, I did literature research, on the other hand a big part of it was consulting colleagues and an external consultant. Although the project is not yet finished, the results so far are very promising. We plan to start using this technology with our clients in the near future. The project is really teaching me how we can actually apply technology in practice. I am also getting to know and understand the company and how business is done here. These will be useful assets as I develop myself further in follow-up projects.
WHAT KNOWLEDGE FROM YOUR STUDIES DO YOU USE AT WORK?
I am constantly using at work what I learned during my studies. On the one hand, all the theoretical knowledge from the different subjects comes back. But my job is not to sum up all the theory I learned at university – the practical skills I learned during the programme are much more important. They include dealing with problems and issues and working in a project-based way.
HOW DID THE MECHANICAL ENGINEERING PROGRAMME PREPARE YOU FOR THE JOB MARKET?
The Mechanical Engineering programme gives you a good foundation for the job market. During the programme you encounter practical problems from day 1 – not just academic questions. During the various projects, the internship and the Master's programme you learn how to deal with these problems. So when you graduate you are a fully qualified worker on the job market.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?
My ambition to tackle the challenges the industrial throws at me head-on. Through these challenges I hope to continue learning and to contribute to exciting, innovative technology.
DO YOU HAVE ANY 'TOP TIPS' FOR FUTURE STUDENTS?
Make the most of the many possibilities and chances you get at the University of Twente. A lot of fun, interesting and useful knowledge and experience can be gained from the broad range of subjects. You are offered a lot of opportunities, for example, cool excursions, study trips and internships with great companies.