Electrical project engineer positions (career story)

Hi everyone! It is a pleasure to write you. I am Jesús Pérez Díaz, born and raised in Venezuela. I am an Electrical Engineer and I work as a Project Engineer in the Oil&Gas industry (mainly).

Electrical Drawings

Electrical Drawings | image: dreamstime

In this article I want to tell you how my experience has been and what you will expect being in a similar position.

It is important to say (at least in my book), that your feelings about your job are directly affected by the external environment that surrounds you and where you are in (economy, inflation, stability, health, security, etc.). And also, by the culture and politics of the company which you work for, regarding how its employees are treated and how the work is done (training courses, salary, benefits, schedule flexibility, office environment, intern procedures, etc.).

All of these matters impact the motivation and job perception, but my intention is not to focus on them.

Electrical Project Engineer: position and skills

Acting as an Electrical Project Engineer, you will be in charge of designing all the electrical installation and specify the electrical equipment to be purchased in the project.
As you can imagine, it involves a lot of responsibility due to the fact that a bad design could be reflected in the construction stage, or even though after all the installations are built and if for any reason a disaster occurs (in the worst case), for sure there will be a huge issue for both the Company and you.

As Project Engineer, you will have many options to carry out your design and achieve the objectives. In order to select the best solution to be applied, you must evaluate each of them in an integral way considering costs, technical requirements, interference of installations with the other disciplines, constructability, future expansions, possible troubles (now and in the future), and so on.

Cable Tray route

Cable Tray route in a Refinery (avoiding interference with piping) | image: intergraph.com

The usual activities to be done by an Electrical Project Engineer are: calculation reports, development of drawings, technical specifications, requisition for quotation, material take off, bill of quantities, and eventually site visits / field survey.

These involve a lot of engineering knowledge, standard and designing guides handling, software use, be familiarized with the other disciplines (mechanical, civil, HVAC, process), teamwork, be at ease working in front of a PC for long a period of time, and above all working under pressure.

Electrical Project Engineer: expectations

One of the most gratifying satisfaction that you could have as a Project Engineer is to see and appreciate how the design that you have previously done (reflected on paper) is built in the construction stage, taking into account all the details and considerations that you defined.

In addition, working for a good engineering company may allow you to get a lot of know-how and enough experience (not only in a technical way, but also you will learn about the project’s business) to become independent and start your own company dedicated to carry projects out.

Electrical Project Engineer: my experience

I remember the first project I worked on, it was a basic/detailed engineering about the installation of 5 low voltage emergency diesel generators to feed the critical loads of a Bank main headquarters.
I was only a “fresh graduate” when I started working for this Company, the project was already delayed, the electrical engineer who was working from the beginning of the project had resigned just a week before, and there I was!, almost alone reading and reviewing all the documents and drawings, trying to understand the project and asking the engineering coordinator (For my luck, he was an Electrical Engineer too, thanks God!) about all my doubts.

Not a day had passed and I was asked about the design of all the cable tray system, “how wide is the cable tray main route?”, “how will the cable tray be supported?”, “what about cable tray grounding, is it needed?”, and all of these kind of questions even though I was new to the project and without receiving any induction yet.

I felt ill at ease and a little nervous, under a lot of pressure from the beginning of my first day of work. However, I needed to keep on going, so I started to read and investigate in the National Electrical Code® (NFPA70), manufacturer technical information, and designing guidelines in order to find out how to calculate a cable tray wide to carry 20 single cables 500 kcmil on it.

I continued studying even when I arrived at home, in some cases I printed out project documents to look them over on weekends and felt self-confidence the following days. Anyway, I strained myself to learn quickly and achieve the project schedule.
After a while, the project was finished with total success so I felt very happy and glad of my contribution, also I received good feedbacks from the client and my boss.

I continued working for this Company but I lost the track of my first project. After around two years of the project’s end, I visited the bank building to have a work meeting about another concern, so I took advantage of going to the installation place and I could see how my design was implemented by the contractor.
It made me felt so well and surprised that there were almost no changes from my design. That was the best satisfaction that I have ever had working as an Electrical Project Engineer.

My message

So, if you liked the activities that an Electrical Project Engineer does, I would recommend that you find a vacancy and apply for, it is a beautiful and interesting area to make a career.

If you are a “Fresh graduate”, do not be afraid to get a job like this, it will be a huge opportunity to increase your knowledge and for sure that will help you in the future no matter what position you will be in.

Jesús Pérez Díaz.

About the Author

  • Project Engineer in the Oil&Gas industry (mainly)
  • Location: Venezuela
  • Email: Jesusrperezd@gmail.com
  • LinkedIn profile: https://ve.linkedin.com/in/jesusrperezd


Leave a Comment