A Journey in Pursuit of Technological Solutions for the Energy Industry
I am currently working as an HPC Researcher at Shell, based out of the Shell Technology Center Houston where I am undergoing an International Assignment. In my current role, I work at the intersection of computing, artificial intelligence and science. I would describe my career path more aptly by a reverse edition of a popular phrase in energy industry and in Shell i.e., barrels to bits.
I did an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering with special focus on refining and petrochemicals. The first job after my undergraduate studies was in a govt. of India’s leading public sector undertaking in the fertilizer sector. I still remember and relish my experiences of working in a chemical manufacturing facility at the heart of Mumbai. To sum it up it was like experiencing modern alchemy at industrial scale. But as I got more and more experiences of the plant control room, I could see digital solutions being one of the key enablers of advanced process control. Fast forward to now, through my postgraduate and PhD in Chemical engineering and the subsequent industrial experience, I have always kept a focus on digital solutions for scientific and engineering applications. I picked up my computational skills while working on the interdisciplinary area of computational physics for multiphase flows at meso and macro scale. While creating my own scientific computing and AI solutions, my problems either got bigger or harder to an extent that it needed cutting edge computational hardware and performance efficient algorithms to get the solutions in a reasonable time frame. Right at the start of my PhD in the Netherlands, my advisor asked a few of the newly joined grad students to attend a fall school on High Performance Computing at the HPC Center Stuttgart (HLRS) in Germany. I still fondly remember the experience of walking into the supercomputer room seeing a computer that occupies the complete floor with fancy artwork panels to hide the wiring complexities beneath. Being a CSER PhD graduate, I had the option to join Shell after completing my PhD and I interacted with few team leads and their portfolio. I was quite interested in further pursuing my hands-on computing expertise and HPC team got my attention because they were operating at the confluence of computing, artificial intelligence and physics/science.
In my current role in Shell, I have collaborated with wide range of stakeholders on projects such as exascale seismic inversion, large scale AI for machine vision application, edge computing and scientific machine learning, to name a few.
I am always amazed by the diverse skillsets of the people with whom I have worked and the deep technical expertise they have gathered in their own specific areas.Aniruddha Panda, Researcher Digital and Scientific HPC
During the GTKYs (get-to-know-you) with new stakeholders and informal coffee chats with new faces Shell never fails to amaze me and making me feel: wow, I didn’t knew there are people working in this area as well in Shell! Through the much more formalised training programs such as the Shell Graduate Program and the Shell Advanced Technical Program for early career researchers, Shell also provides a host of technical as well as non-technical and leadership learnings. Safety, care for employees and their families and work life balance are some of the other areas where Shell has had a remarkable impression on me. The company’s focus on energy transition clearly points to the fact that the future energy systems will be more heterogeneous, dynamic and intermittent in nature, requiring bringing in some of the most advanced technological solutions in the energy sector. As the digital solutions grow in scale and complexity, computing will continue to evolve as the frontrunner in this journey. I see many more like me in Shell in taking pride in what we do and doing our tiny step contributing to the larger leap towards our sustainability ambitions for the greater benefit to the society.
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We asked our employees to share their #LifeAtShell stories and let us have a preview on their work and life events. Each story touches on their personal views and experiences of working for a global energy leader, and collaborating with a dynamic team at Shell Business Operations.