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Young engineer of the year

22 August 2019
Mechanical engineer Ross O’Brien has made an impact on BP in his first four years with the company and inspired future engineers - and now he’s won the prestigious Young Engineer of the Year award
Ross O'Brien

The award presented by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) was presented to O’Brien for his exceptional engineering skills, leadership ability and commitment to volunteering in the community.


Senior mechanical engineer and O’Brien’s former colleague Matt Manley said: “Ross’ determination to continue his personal and professional development will serve him well in his ambition to become an inspirational and successful future energy leader.”


Hear from Ross about what it means to win

So, Ross – why did you win?


I’m still trying to figure that one out myself! The award recognises individuals that demonstrate a high skill level, leadership ability and contribution to the community around them. These are all aspects that I take seriously in my career and life. However, although this is an individual award, I’ve been incredibly fortunate. BP has given me excellent opportunities along the way and most importantly of all, I’ve worked with great people in great teams. This is a huge part of why I’ve won this award.


What have you been working on since joining BP?


Its been an incredible experience so far. I started out in Petrochemicals and have recently moved into BP’s refining business, supporting our Gelsenkirchen site in Germany. During my time in Petrochemicals I supported our manufacturing sites around the world and got the chance to develop new technologies. I love working in a manufacturing environment because every day you feel that you can make a difference. Hull, in particular, is a great place for young engineers as you get to experience operations up close and learn the challenges of a manufacturing business. Big shout out to the Hull team! Now that I’m in Gelsenkirchen, my attention is solely on improving site availability. We’ve got a huge opportunity to work closely with the site to make real improvements. If we can all pull it off, it will not only deliver an increase in production but also a great improvement in safety.

O’Brien has inspired future engineers by regularly contributing to local school events, university talks and conferences, including “ex’straw’dinary engineering”, New Scientist Live conference and The Children’s University Year of Engineering event.

What have you enjoyed most?


I’ll limit myself to three favourites:

  1. If anyone has worked on a maintenance shutdown (TAR) you’ll know that it’s a colossal mix between hard work and great fun. Some of my best memories have been working in the spring months with great people at Hull on tough technical challenges.
  2. I love technology! If there’s a problem that needs fixing, for me, it’s an opportunity to unleash technology. I’ve been able to experience working on new plant design, 3D printing and even developing new process equipment from scratch. Technology will play a huge role in the future of our company, which I find exciting.
  3.  The purpose of BP. Back in 2017 I got the chance to represent BP at the One Young World summit in Colombia. I left inspired to help more of my colleagues realise the positive impact they have on the world by working for BP. I’ve worked with a truly amazing team and have been guided along the way by our HR director. In short, we’re now embracing purpose as a company! We all do different things in BP. But whether you support making chemicals, fuels, lubes, drilling for resources or developing new technologies, you’re working to help the world keep advancing. That’s something to be proud of!
I love technology! If there’s a problem that needs fixing, for me, it’s an opportunity to unleash technology.

And, what’s next?


My goal is to develop into a leader within the industry so that I can help us achieve a low carbon future. Along the way I want to encourage as many children as possible to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects in school and, later, pursue careers in engineering. The future will certainly be challenging but I’m optimistic that our best years are ahead of us.

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