R-Squared Energy Blog

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These Engineers Still Need Jobs

Once again, I am asking for help in placing some of my former engineers who lost jobs in July. As you know, this is a difficult job market across most sectors. Unemployment numbers were released today, and the unemployment rate went over 10% for the first time since 1983.

A number of stories have noted the grim statistics:

College Graduates Face Toughest Job Market in Years

According to a survey from National Association of Colleges and Employers, the class of 2009 is leaving campus with fewer jobs in hand than their 2008 counterparts. The group’s 2009 Student Survey found that just 19.7 percent of 2009 graduates who applied for a job actually have one.

In comparison, 51 percent of those graduating in 2007 and 26 percent of those graduating in 2008 who had applied for a job had one in hand by the time of graduation.

College graduates face a tough road ahead

The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds has topped 14 percent for the first time in more than 25 years. With the notable engineering exceptions, starting salary offers have fallen by 3.1 percent compared with last year, according to CollegeJobBank.com.

Small wonder about 1 in 4 of this year’s grads plans on graduate school instead of getting a job.

During my career, engineers have always had an easy time finding jobs. And that last story implies that the job market is still OK for engineers. That has not been my observation. As I reported back in July, my previous company had to let go of a number of engineers. In fact, one of my last tasks was to sit down with most of these engineers and tell them that they no longer had jobs. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my career. The fact that all of these engineers were doing a great job for us made it much more difficult. Here it is over 3 months later, and these engineers are still looking for jobs. While a couple of them have significant experience, the problem for the others is that they have less than 3 years of experience. It seems that everyone looking for engineers is looking for more than 5 years of experience.

So in the hopes that someone out there needs some good engineers, I want to highlight them once again and link to their resumes. The last time I did this I asked people to e-mail me for their information, and that caused an unnecessary bottleneck. This time you can click on their resumes and contact them directly. As always, I am happy to get on the phone and talk to you about any of these engineers. They are all top-notch, and someone should be utilizing their skills.

Here is a brief description of each, followed by a link to their resume. (Please be forgiving on any small formatting issues, as there are some formatting changes when these get converted from Word into Google Documents).

1. First year chemical engineer out of Arizona State with a 3.6 GPA. Spent 8 years in the U.S. Army. Gets along very well with everyone, and established himself very quickly as a promising engineer in our Arnhem (Netherlands) plant. Ideally would like to work in chemicals/petrochemical or energy. Resume link.

2. MS in Chemical Engineering from Princeton, with a BChE Summa cum Laude from the University of Delaware. Was excellent in an R&D role for us. Interests are process design and improvement in the chemical, biochemical, pharmaceutical, or energy industries. Willing to relocate within US and Canada. Preferences within the following areas: Mid-Atlantic, New England, Pacific Northwest. Resume link.

3. Chemical engineering graduate from Villanova. Enormous potential, but had barely started with us when the reorganization was announced. The all around best of a very good group of candidates I interviewed from the recent graduating Class of 2009. Some experience in pharmaceutical quality control, product development, process optimization, and coal gasification. Would prefer to stay in the PA, NJ, NY, DC, MD, or VA area, but open to other areas for the right career development opportunities. Resume link.

4. Mechanical engineer by training with a substantial blend of operations management and process improvement experience. Has been successful in roles such as Six Sigma Black Belt, Manufacturing Manager, Plant Manager, and Global Process Improvement Manager. Ideal role would be as Operations Director or Director of Process Improvement. Resume link.

5. Ph.D. chemical engineer with more than 20 years of experience, 32 granted patents, and numerous publications. Former professor at a major U.S. university. Has a combination of industry and academic experience. Resume link.

November 7, 2009 Posted by | Accsys Technologies, employment, Titan Wood | 13 Comments

Engineering Rules

Average Starting Salaries for This Year’s Graduates

From a CNN story this week, that graphic represents a landslide. To the person who asked in the recent Q&A (OK, the “A” is still pending) what they should study in school, might I suggest you put a lot of effort into your math classes, and consider engineering of some sort? The caveat of course is that the job market has tightened up significantly this year – even for engineers who were in such great demand a year ago.

July 28, 2009 Posted by | employment, jobs | 10 Comments

Looking for Help After a Difficult Week

I am coming to the end of the most difficult week of my career, which is why I haven’t written much for the past few days. I had to sit across the table from some very good people and tell them they no longer had jobs. It wasn’t the first time I had to terminate people, but it was the first time I had to terminate people of this caliber, and for purely economic reasons. It was an experience I hope to never repeat, and I am determined to intervene in order to mitigate the impact on these individuals and their families.

The history here is that the company I have worked for over the past 1.5 years had built up an office in Dallas of about 30 people. The CEO of the company (Accsys PLC) had been based in Dallas, but stepped down at the beginning of this week. The new CEO will be based in London. In the aftermath of the change, a decision was made to restructure and shift certain functions back to Europe, which is where our first commercial plant is located. We lost a number of people, including several engineers who reported to me. These were people that I recruited and hired, and I feel personally responsible for them. As I indicated previously, I am relocating very soon to Hawaii, but before I go I want to help place those who lost jobs.

Given that we are in the midst of the most difficult economic conditions in decades, I thought I would do something unconventional here. I want to reach out to readers in the off chance that you currently know of an organization looking to employ someone with the skills of some of the people we lost this week. Of the following six, I personally interviewed four of them, and I can promise you my interviews are generally brutal. As a result, few of the people that I interview are offered a job. But because my screening process is so tough, I rarely make a hiring decision that I later regret. (Of course overly-restrictive standards also result in missing out on lots of good candidates). So all of the candidates below have my unqualified recommendation.

The following group includes 3 chemical engineers (representing Arizona State, Princeton, and Villanova), a mechanical engineer (Virginia Tech) who is a Six Sigma/lean manufacturing expert, a logistics expert with over 20 years of experience, and a business manager who excels at building and managing teams. All have international experience.

Here is a slightly more detailed synopsis, in no particular order:

1. First year chemical engineer out of Arizona State with a 3.6 GPA. Spent 8 years in the U.S. Army. Gets along very well with everyone, and established himself very quickly as a promising engineer in our Arnhem (Netherlands) plant. Ideally would like to work in process design or process engineering.

2. MS in Chemical Engineering from Princeton, with a BChE Summa cum Laude from the University of Delaware. Has been excellent in an R&D role for us. Interests are process design and improvement in the chemical, biochemical, pharmaceutical, or energy industries. Willing to relocate within US and Canada. Preferences within the following areas: Mid-Atlantic, New England, Pacific Northwest.

3. Chemical engineering graduate from Villanova. Enormous potential, but had barely started with us when the reorganization was announced. The all around best of a very good group of candidates I interviewed from the recent graduating Class of 2009.

4. Mechanical engineer by training; almost 20 years of experience with lots of management experience. Six Sigma/LEAN manufacturing specialist. Very good at building consensus, and superb at setting up and executing projects. Served as my stand-in when I was out of the office.

5. A natural salesman with an extremely smooth demeanor. BBA with almost 20 years of experience. Was responsible for commercialization efforts of one of our new product lines. Skilled at building, developing, and managing teams. Prefers to remain in the Dallas metroplex, but open to other opportunities.

6. Logistics expert with more than 20 years of experience. Experience in China, South Africa, and the Netherlands. American citizen but speaks some Dutch and German.

If you are interested in talking to any of these people, send me an email (my address) and let me know. I can send you any or all of their resumes. Just say “Send me #4 and #6”, for instance. If you want to speak with me personally about any of them, let me know and I will call you. I will update this as needed, and perhaps bump it back up in the future.

Thank you.

July 24, 2009 Posted by | Accsys Technologies, employment, Titan Wood | 7 Comments

How Many Green Jobs?

While I recently wrote an article on Green Job Opportunities, until today I was unaware of just how many green jobs there actually are. Sure, I know it’s a fast-growing field, and many of the e-mails I get are asking about job opportunities in the sector. Today, a study was released by Worldwatch Institute that provides some answers:

Jobs in Renewable Energy Expanding

Currently about 2.3 million people worldwide work either directly in renewables or indirectly in supplier indus­tries. Given incomplete data, this is in all like­lihood a conservative figure. The wind power industry employs some 300,000 people, the solar photovoltaics (PV) sector accounts for an estimated 170,000 jobs, and the solar thermal industry, at least 624,000. More than 1 million jobs are found in the biomass and biofuels sector. Small-scale hydropower and geothermal energy are far smaller employers.

You might be surprised – as I was – to learn this:

For instance, Kenya has one of the largest and most dynamic solar markets in the developing world. There are 10 major solar PV import companies, and the country has an estimated 1,000-2,000 solar technicians. In Bangladesh, Grameen Shakti has installed more than 100,000 solar home systems in rural communities in a few years-one of the fastest-growing solar PV programs in the world-and is aiming for 1 million by 2015, along with the creation of some 100,000 jobs for local youth and women as solar technicians and repair and maintenance specialists.

This story was also reported in the Christian Science Monitor’s ‘bright green blog’:

Study: green jobs rising, fossil fuel jobs falling

This article reports some additional details, such as the number of workers in the geothermal (25,000) and hydropower (39,000) sectors, and for comparison notes that 7 million are employed in the coal industry.

Finally, a number of people have asked me to comment on T. Boone Pickens’ new energy plan. I have started to look at it, and began to look at natural gas reserves in the U.S. to determine whether his proposal is realistic given our natural gas situation. But natural gas reserves are a very muddled picture, and it will take some time to sort it out. At first glance, as a proponent of more CNG vehicles, there are certainly aspects of the plan that I like. In the interim, I would point you to Geoff Styles’ excellent crique: A Man, A Plan.

July 11, 2008 Posted by | employment, jobs, natural gas, T. Boone Pickens | 22 Comments

Renewable Energy Jobs at Google

A recruiter from Google recently contacted me and asked if I would put a note on here that they are looking for candidates for their Renewable Energy Group. You may recall that I previously wrote a post covering several companies – Green Job Opportunities. This one is specifically for Google. Below is their call for qualified people to take up the challenge of supplying clean energy to the world.

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Environmental sustainability in the face of global climate change is a high priority for Google because, as our business grows, so does our demand for energy. We’ve worked hard to increase our efficiency and become carbon-neutral, but when it comes to buying clean and affordable electricity we still have limited options. We’ve recently announced that we’re taking a first step toward tackling this important challenge.

Business as usual: will not deliver low-cost, clean energy fast enough to avoid potentially catastrophic climate change. We need a clean energy solution that will deliver breakthrough technologies priced lower than carbon-intensive alternatives such as coal. Google is launching an internal R&D group to develop electricity from renewable energy sources at a cost less than coal. This initiative will explore advanced solar thermal power, high-altitude wind, enhanced geothermal systems, and eventually other breakthrough technologies as well.

Head of Renewable Energy: http://www.google.com/support/jobs/bin/answer.py?answer=81799&query=energy&topic=&type=energy

Renewable Energy Engineer: http://www.google.com/support/jobs/bin/answer.py?answer=81800&query=energy&topic=&type=energy

If you know other outstanding engineers who may be interested in joining the team, I encourage you to pass along this information as we are hiring for multiple positions.

May 29, 2008 Posted by | employment, Google, jobs | 9 Comments

Recession-Proof Jobs

I sometimes get questions from people wondering what kinds of jobs will be safest in the future. I always recommend that people look for something that interests them in either the energy or health care field. I am not as familiar with the manpower issues in the health care field, but we have serious shortages in the energy sector.

This is also consistent with my investment strategy. I invest primarily in energy, health care, international stocks, and environmental companies. Today, Yahoo published an article that suggests that these sectors – plus the education and security sectors – are exactly where jobs will be safest from a recession:

Recession-Proof Jobs in 2008

John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, told Yahoo! HotJobs that careers in the following fields may offer a good chance of weathering a storm this year.

* Education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has historically shown teaching to be relatively recession-proof. But demographics are important: High-growth areas like the Sun Belt offer much better prospects than the Rust Belt.

* Energy. “This is a major issue for the global economy, and jobs related to oil and gas, alternative energy and even nuclear are likely to see strong growth,” Challenger said.

* Health care. Almost half the 30 fastest growing occupations are concentrated in health services — including medical assistants, physical therapists, physician assistants, home health aides, and medical records and health information technicians — according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

* International business. “If you have a strong knowledge of other cultures, and an ability to work in another country, you’ll find plenty of opportunities,” according to John Challenger. “If you’re first generation Chinese, with business skills and Chinese language skills, you’re in good shape.

* Environmental sector. There is a huge and growing industry geared to combat global warming. “Not only will professionals with skills in sustainability issues be in demand through the end of the decade, we are likely to shortages of professionals with ‘green’ skills,” said Rona Fried, president of sustainablebusiness.com, a networking service for sustainable businesses.

* Security. “Crime doesn’t stop during a recession, and police officers, port security specialists and international security experts will continue to be in demand,” Challenger emphasized.

The article also warned that anything around the housing sector was a danger zone:

“The housing slump will touch anything related to housing, from real estate to investment banks, to engineering and architecture,” Koropeckyj said. Though public sector jobs grew at a fast clip in the last five years, state and local government jobs are likely to slow as home values, and, consequently, tax revenues, sink.

The housing slump could even extend to industries dependent on discretionary spending, like restaurants and retail, she indicated. Manufacturing, too, long in dire need of an upswing, is likely to keep waiting for one through 2008, Koropeckyj said.

People are going to need energy, even though they may despise the people that provide it for them. They are going to need health care. Find an interest in those fields, and you should have a relatively stable job.

January 24, 2008 Posted by | employment, health care, investing, jobs | 102 Comments