“I have undertaken three summer internships and will start a design engineer position after my graduation this summer.”
Brooke McKenna, Chemical Engineer Graduate
Brooke is a student at Strathclyde University, she is close to finishing her Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering. After graduating she will start her career as a design engineer with Star.
What is your role within Star? How long have you been with the company? I am a design engineer student, currently conducting my master’s thesis this semester with the company. I have been at Star Refrigeration since July 2017, where I have undertaken three summer internships and will start a design engineer position after my graduation this summer.
Where did you study and what qualifications did you gain? I am a few months away from completing my master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
What attracted you to the industry? I received an email from the university advertising a summer internship position with the company, and I found the role description quite interesting as industrial refrigeration is a sector not really pitched to university students as a career path.
What do you specialise in now? What type of projects do you work on? For my master’s thesis, I am conducting research into the performance of defrosting systems. During my summer internships, I have been fortunate to be involved with a variety of projects within the design department for different industries.
What do you enjoy most about your job, and what are the biggest challenges you face? I really enjoy the variety of the projects, and the range of industries that the contracts can be undertaken. The diversity of the work is really interesting, some days could involve calculations whilst others consist of developing a plant’s process diagram or preparing documents for its operation. The biggest challenge was gaining sufficient knowledge to understand the industry, particularly coming from a chemical engineering background where the basic refrigeration cycle was the only knowledge I had obtained from university.
“I really enjoy the working environment in Star, all the teams are very friendly and more than happy to help answer any questions that you may have when you are unsure.”
What would you say to other women who are considering coming into the ACR industry? Definitely be open to the opportunities within the ACR industry, I think because it is not an industry continually focused on by universities as a career path, it can be quite a daunting prospect coming into an industry with minimal knowledge and having to learn from scratch. However, it is a very welcoming industry for women to be employed.
What do you like about working for Star? I also admire the active involvement Star have in the development of the refrigeration industry, with the continual contribution of papers and advancements to their refrigeration systems. I think their ambition is great, particularly that they are never complacent and are continually trying to improve their processes to make them more efficient for their clients.
Where do you see your career developing? I hope upon graduation I can continue to build my industrial knowledge within the company and take on more responsibility, as well as gaining chartership with iChemE within the next five years.
What are the challenges of this industry? I think the biggest challenge is refrigerant selection. The continual push for a greener future means that all refrigeration end users must adhere to the F-Gas Regulations and hence the need to develop novel refrigerants with lower GWP to minimise impact on the environment. Star is well position to support this trend as the company has been a pioneer in the use of environmentally friendly gases, particularly ammonia and CO2 since its inception in 1970.
Any general career highlights? I was invited by Star to attend the IESIS Annual James Watt Dinner, this was my first industrial event and it was a great opportunity to learn about the institution. Hopefully, it is the first of many industrial events to advance my knowledge.