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Engineering is music


For some children, being told to practice the piano is a chore, but for Andrea Daniels, Process Safety Engineer at Umicore, her love of music was a bridge to her career as an engineer.

Throughout her childhood Andrea was passionate about music, and curious about how things worked, often treating lamps, radios and calculators, as puzzles to take apart and discover how they went back together. Despite this, she never considered engineering as a career, in fact she didn’t even know much about it.

“Up until I was around 17, I was convinced I was going to go into a performing arts program,” Andrea says. “It wasn’t until a year later that I started actually picturing what my life would look like, and what kind of lifestyle a musician would have, that I thought I should look at other options. It was actually my mom who suggested engineering. I didn’t know much about it, or anyone who was one, especially not any women, but it sounded interesting.”

While she may not have known what she was getting herself into, Andrea soon discovered that her love of music, combined with her love of problem solving and figuring out how things worked, was a perfect fit for a role in engineering.

“There are actually a lot of similarities between music and engineering. They both follow a framework and proscribed rules, and they allow expression and creativity. Music is about patterns and sequences, and those are the same principles that apply to engineering.”

Andrea Daniels, Process Safety Engineer at Umicore

While it was a bit daunting at first, being one of few females in the primarily male dominated program, Andrea loved the give and take of engineering. Of being able to engage with other disciplines and working groups combining research with hands on learning.

“I discovered that engineering is such a foundational degree,” Andrea says. “It is principle based, disciplined and highly transferable. It just provides infinite options and growth opportunities, and this has been the story of my career, I have changed lanes many times.” After graduating Andrea explored a variety of engineering roles. Beginning in manufacturing and process design, before moving to environmental compliance, and finally to process safety.

“When I started working in process safety, I really found my passion. I feel like I had been building up my technical skills through my previous roles and now got to use all of them together in one role,” Andrea says.

In her current role as Process Safety Engineer, Andrea works with the engineering team to design, install, commission and run equipment, ensuring it has a safe and robust design. It calls on Andrea’s love of solving puzzles to help identify risks and figure out how to mitigate and protect against them. Despite finding a new passion in engineering, music is still a very big part of Andrea’s life. She still plays piano and is part of her local community choir group.