Meet Process Engineer Andrew Ferguson

Meet Process Engineer Andrew Ferguson

By: Scott D. Love, 12/21/22

Welcome to the latest in a series of AIChE blog posts profiling process engineers, a diverse group of professionals spanning multiple industries and regions. In this series, we profile process engineers who work in a wide range of fields, including petrochemicals, pharma, bulk chemicals, food, or any process-intensive industry.

This month, we introduce you to Andrew Ferguson, Research Engineer at Church & Dwight Co., Inc. He discusses the path that led to his career in process engineering, his joy for problem solving, overcoming challenges, and the importance of his work.

Tell us a bit about your work as a process engineer.

I started my career working at a manufacturing plant as a process engineer in the cosmetics and personal care industry. From there, I transitioned to another cosmetics/personal care company, but this time in R&D where I had hands-on experience making batches. Currently, I work as a process development engineer in R&D in the gummy vitamin industry.

There are three main elements to my role. The first is to evaluate new product developments for manufacturability via pilot and analytical testing and scale those processes to the manufacturing plant. New products are always coming through the pipeline and can have dramatically different behavior, so it’s important to perform trials at a pilot scale first to mitigate the potential for problems at the plant.

The second is to troubleshoot and scale down any issues that may arise during manufacturing. Sometimes products that have been running at the plant suddenly start running into issues. These problems could possibly be due to an equipment change, the process falling out of control, or the need for a new raw material supplier for an ingredient. Regardless, these issues need to be understood and resolved, and the only way to effectively test this is at the pilot scale.

The third element of my role is to use engineering and physics to build models to determine how to best scale up different unit operations in our process. Understanding how our process works from lab to pilot to plant scales and actually being able to model it makes the scale-up process proceed smoothly with far fewer difficulties.

Learn more about Andrew and careers in process engineering here.

By David Cota-Buckhout
David Cota-Buckhout Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement and Career Support