Over the years the world has encountered numerous catastrophes that have ravaged our environment and left several dead: Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the Chernobyl disaster, the Fukushima meltdown amongst others. At the center of each of these disasters, there has been engineers involved in these projects. Some of the toughest jobs in the world. While some engineering jobs require staff to be placed in an office, others require them to work under possibly dangerous conditions that may put their very own lives at risk:
1. Mining Engineer
Mining engineers are concerned with the safe, economic and environmentally responsible recovery, processing, marketing and financial management of mineral resources to meet the constant global demand for mineral commodities. They extract and produce oil, gas, coal, minerals, and metals for manufacturing purposes, design underground mines and work in underground operations to supervise the construction of mine shafts and tunnels. Furthermore, they are held responsible for any flaws or accidents that occur in mining operations. Working in mines is a hazardous job dealing with a set of challenges from explosive material, dangerous gas or collapses that may result in a huge massacre. In 2010 a San Jose mine in Chile left 33 miners trapped 2,297 feet underground for 69 days after the entrance to the mine collapsed. A colossal rescue mission was instigated involving NASA, a number of international corporations, and nearly all the country’s government ministries.
2. Chemical Engineer
Chemical engineering jobs are concerned with the design, construction, and operation of machines and plants that perform chemical reactions to solve practical problems or make useful products. Chemical engineers are responsible for the conception and design of processes for the purpose of production, transformation and transportation of materials. They work with specific types of chemicals to produce a certain effect. Chemical engineers are also concerned with pioneering valuable materials and related techniques – which are often essential to related fields such as nanotechnology, fuel cells and biomedical engineering. Typically they work in environments such as a pharmaceutical lab, medicine research center where they work with different types of chemicals which may be harmful. Chemical engineers often have to exercise great caution when handling these chemicals as some are highly flammable and may result in an explosion if the right measures are not implemented.
3. Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers design, test and supervise the manufacture of aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. They also supervise ongoing space productions and ensure there are no defects in the products. While they develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space exploration, they often specialize in areas such as structural design, guidance, navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, and production methods. They also may specialize in a particular type of aerospace product and become experts in aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, or guidance and control systems. The job of an aerospace engineer can be very dangerous, especially those in the aviation industry as they may be exposed to excessive noise and potentially dangerous materials. A good example is the work that was involved in developing Convair X-6, a proposed experimental aircraft that was to develop and evaluate a nuclear-powered jet aircraft. While it was eventually cancelled the aerospace engineers who worked on the project faced constant challenges of developing a viable model and working with nuclear materials.
4. Petroleum Engineer
Petroleum engineers design methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the earth while operating on a minimal cost and limiting potential risks and hazards to people and the environment. They work with geologists and drilling operators to determine the best drilling methods to extract oil and gas, and they design equipment based on those requirements. They also supervise the extraction of oil by either drilling or injecting chemicals, water or steam into the earth and improve the techniques by which petroleum is captured. Petroleum engineers often work in remote or inhospitable environments, working long hours at drilling sites. While a lucrative profession, this job is challenging as engineers are involved in extracting oil in increasingly difficult situations as most of the world’s oil fields have already been found or depleted. On July 6, 1988 the offshore platform Piper Alpha, which was located in the British sector of the North Sea oil field and operated by Occidental Petroleum, was engulfed in a catastrophic fire. This led to the death of 165 men on board of the platform itself. Another disaster was the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, where more than 200 million gallons of crude oil was pumped into the Gulf of Mexico for a total of 87 days and killed 11 people.
5. Marine Engineer
Marine engineers are involved in the design and construction of seagoing vessels and structures right from the operation, maintenance and repair of all major mechanical and engineered equipment on board a marine vessel. They may work on certain types of vessels from sailboats, cruise ships, submarines or military battleships and aircraft carriers. They often oversee the construction of prototypes and help to test the finished vessels. The construction, operations and maintenance of the engine room are the main obligation of a Marine engineer. They are the overall in charge of the engine and its crew, and ensure the safety and standards of the marine vessel. The risk of human error is an ever present danger in the working environment of a marine engineer, often resulting in personal injury, disability or the tragic loss of life along with the staggering costs associated with such incidents. Marine engineers may also work in harsh weather conditions, often during severe storms, and can run the risk of falling overboard.
6. Nuclear Engineer
In 2011, a major earthquake and tsunami in Japan resulted in the death of thousands as well as much damage to coastal ports and towns.It also disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors, causing a nuclear accident. This incident spurned interest globally and shed light on the dangers involved in nuclear engineering jobs. A nuclear engineer researches and develops the processes, instruments, and systems used to get benefits from nuclear energy and radiation. They find industrial and medical uses for radioactive materials—such as, in equipment used in medical diagnosis and treatment. Nuclear engineers run the risk of an accident or exposure, not only to themselves but the community and environment as well. This could lead to deaths, infertility, heath problems and deadly cancers.