Leader in the Spotlight: Karanbir Gill, Engineering Star

For this month’s Leader in the Spotlight, we are happy to present Karanbir Gill, a recent University of Alberta engineering graduate specializing in oil and gas. Read on to discover, among other things, Karanbir’s next steps, career-wise, and his thoughts on renewable energy.

1) Describe the single most influential factor in your decision to pursue an education and career in Engineering?

The problem solving aspect of engineering has been the strongest influence in my decision to pursue engineering.  In school, I always liked working on problems that made me think outside the box and that encouraged me to find creative solutions. My answers were not always right, but the struggle to solve the problems was always fun.  

2) What brought you from Brampton, Ontario to Edmonton, Alberta? What do you like the most about each of the two locales?

The Chemical Engineering program offered by the University of Alberta is ranked high among Canadian universities and this motivated me to move to Edmonton, Alberta. I like Brampton, Ontario, since I grew up there and it will always be my hometown. Brampton is also known as the “flower town”. During the spring and summer,  there’s a vast variety of flowers all around the city. On the other hand, Edmonton, Alberta has more opportunities in the field of oil and gas, so this gives it a big plus. Also, Alberta has cold winters with temperatures dropping to – 40 degree Celsius; I’m not sure if it is a plus point or not though.

3) Now that you’ve graduated from your Bachelor’s degree, what’s your next step? If you’re planning to work right away, how do you see yourself handling the transition from school to the workforce?

My next step is to work in the field of my desire, oil and gas, and get some hands-on experience. It is definitely a very exciting time for me to finally put my knowledge and passion to work. Right around graduation, all the engineering students participate in an iron ring ceremony to receive an iron ring, which is a symbol and reminder of the obligations and ethics associated with the profession. All students are then registered as Engineers in Training (EIT). After gaining the required experience in different job roles and passing the required NPPE (National Professional Practice Exam), an EIT can apply for his/her Professional Engineer (P. Eng.) license. Currently I am an EIT, which means I am still learning about my work and field, but in a more professional environment. I am handling this transition period in a positive manner, by making the most of this experience.

4) As a Chemical Engineer with an interest in oil and gas, what are your thoughts on renewable energy sources (hydro, solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, etc.)? In your opinion, can a Petroleum Engineer be an environmental advocate?

I think we should be focusing on renewable energy sources, since these sources are of great importance for the sustainable growth of this planet. I am very glad to know that a lot of research is being done on these energy sources to make them available on a larger scale in a cost effective manner. My personal favourite is the solar energy, because it is an infinite resource and does not cause pollution. I believe that in the coming years it will play a great role in meeting the energy needs of our world.

Yes, a Petroleum Engineer can be an environmental advocate up to an extent, since petroleum engineers do learn about drilling procedures in a safe manner. This includes environmental aspects.

5) Please explain how a fuel cell works to a fifth-grade student.

A fuel cell is a device that helps to convert chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen, or, in other words, a fuel cell converts the chemicals hydrogen and oxygen into water and in the process it produces electricity.


Me in my oil sands upgrading course lab, learning about Reaction Kinetic in a CSTR

Me in my oil sands upgrading course lab, learning about Reaction Kinetic in a CSTR

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