Hello, my name is Loraine Main. I graduated from the École des Mines de Paris (Mines ParisTech) engineering school in 2013. I have been working at Vallourec since September 2013, when I joined Saint-Saulve Steel Plant as a R&D process engineer.
My first assignment at Vallourec was to optimize heat treatment. It involved both improving quality, reliability of our furnace, and improving productivity: debottleneck our heat treatment furnace and reduce costs. To carry out this project, I lead a continuous improvement team with the operators, who pass on good ideas from the field.
Afterwards, I have been entrusted with other assignments in different sectors of the plant, such as improving our steel cleanliness for our premium applications.
Working as a R&D process engineer offers assignments in various sectors of the plant. It provides a comprehensive look at the process, from upstream – scrap metal, through steel making and continuous casting, to downstream with the forge and heat treatment.
It affects a range of areas: be it chemistry, thermal science or metallurgy, with high-stakes projects.
What I really like about my job is that it deals with real substance, it's working in the field and working with people.
You don't need to be an expert to be a R&D process engineer. Anyway, I'm not. You learn on the job, but you need to be curious and to evince a real interest. You also need to keep humble because when you finish school, you don't know anything. All you've learned is how to learn. But you're working with operators who have been knowing the product and the process for 30 or even 40 years for some of them.
You also need good interpersonal skills because there is a great deal of human interaction, for example when leading working groups.
Beyond that, Vallourec offers a great mobility. As far as I am concerned, I chose to start in the field in order to get to know the product and the process. What do we produce? How do we produce it? Thereafter, there are many opportunities for professional development, not only within the steel plant but also in the pipe mills, Vallourec's core business, or in the finishing plants. Nowadays, an engineer under 30 is already in his second or third position. Thus, Vallourec does offer a framework for learning and growing.