Laboratory Technician, Geosciences Division
Two-year chemical-engineering diploma from Saint-Nazaire University Institute of Technology
Based in Rueil-Malmaison
IFP Energies nouvelles offered me a job in fluid transport at its Applied Mechanics Division in Rueil-Malmaison in October 2000 – just after I qualified. I had applied because a few friends had told me that IFP Energies nouvelles employed a broad range of skills.
My laboratory was transferred to Lyon at the end of 2005, but I didn't really fancy moving. So IFPEN offered me another job at the Reservoir Engineering department. I liked the idea of exploring a whole new field of research without losing touch with my familiar fluid-flow territory. So I moved to the Geosciences Division in January 2006.
I analyze reservoir rock permeability for engineers. The goal is to understand fluid-flow phenomena in wells in order to enhance production or to prevent water influx. Specifically, what I do is re-treat model or natural rocks injecting polymers.
I can't really think of anything I do two days in a row. It all depends on the sort of experiment I'm working on and how long it lasts. But, generally speaking, before running a trial, we meet the engineer in charge to discuss experiment conditions. Then I go to the workshop to get all the kit I need, and use it to put the experiment together in the lab. Setting up experiments can take weeks.
Experiments can last anything from a day to three weeks. I have to make sure they run smoothly, especially monitoring the data-acquisition system (picking up pressure, temperature, flow, weight, pH, capacity, etc.).
When the experiment draws to an end, I screen and process the data, and package it into a report that I hand the engineer in charge.
The variety, more than anything else. Every experiment is different, and no two assemblies are the same. I also enjoy the fact that engineers and project managers give me a lot of leeway to put the experiments together. It means they trust me.
And there are always surprises. That's what makes scientific research so fascinating. You never know exactly what the results are going to be. A mistake can actually lead to a new discovery.
You have to cover all your bases if you want your experiment to go smoothly. So you have to be thorough and meticulous. If you forget something, you might have to start all over again. So you can't just rush it.
For the time being, I'm hoping to stay at Geosciences Division. I've only been here for a year, and it's been great. I don't think scientists can every really get bored: no two experiments are alike.