In it to win it: AVEVA’s first Academic Program Competition winner teams up with the competition’s manager to spill the beans on the merits of STEM contests

Posted: October 1, 2021

The AVEVA Academic Program Competition, now in its fourth year, is designed to provide talented students with a unique opportunity to develop their engineering process simulation skills.

Students are invited to solve real-world problems utilizing AVEVA Process Simulation – an innovative simulation platform covering the complete lifecycle of design, simulation, and training.

AVEVA’s competition plays a significant role in helping to provide growth and development for future engineers. Since its inception, the contest has seen participation from some of the brightest students from more than 50 major universities across North America and Europe.

The winner’s view: Ryan Muir

In 2019, Ryan Muir of the University of Cincinnati took first place in the Academic Program Competition, securing himself a $3000 cash prize. Later that year, he accepted a full-time role as a Models and Applications Engineer for AVEVA Process Simulation.

We ask Ryan how he is settling into his new role and for his recommendations for students who want to follow in his footsteps.

Ryan, can you explain your role at AVEVA?

Models and Applications Engineers are primarily responsible for developing the equipment models used in AVEVA Process Simulation. We also help customers with new and challenging simulation applications, in addition to creating the training materials and example simulations that come with the software.

How has your role progressed over the last year and what is the most rewarding aspect?

AVEVA Process Simulation is one of the most flexible simulation platforms on the market today, which allows us to stay on top of changes happening in industry.

Lately we’ve been seeing companies shift rapidly towards improving the sustainability of their plants and processes.

Since I joined the team, I’ve become increasingly involved in developing new models that help customers reach their sustainability goals. We’ve done a lot of work in renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and green hydrogen.

I also have a background in environmental engineering, so I’ve found the work in this area to be very rewarding.

How did the Academic Program Competition help you prepare for your AVEVA role?

I was introduced to AVEVA Process Simulation for the first time during the competition. For me, it was very exciting to learn a new simulation tool. I found that its open equation framework allowed me to see the equations behind each equipment model and helped me to understand process simulation in a way I hadn’t before.

Do you have any advice for AVEVA’s competition participants?

One of the best parts of my job is the creativity that comes with designing new models for AVEVA Process Simulation. Process simulation tools has been around for decades, but engineering problems are getting more complex and, as a result, require more creativity to be solved.

Students often approach problems in a different way to industry experts and the solutions that come from these different perspectives are fascinating to me.

AVEVA Process Simulation gives you the flexibility you need to be creative in solving these problems. I encourage all participants to think outside the box during the competition and to try to write new models for their submissions.

We are really looking forward to seeing the interesting ways that students use AVEVA Process Simulation to solve problems.

The program manager’s perspective: Mihaela Hahne

An AVEVA employee since 2015, Mihaela is Global Academic Program Manager for. AVEVA currently collaborates with over 600 universities globally. For Mihaela, working with students is one of the most rewarding elements of being the organizer of the Academic Program Competition.

Mihaela, could you tell us about your AVEVA role?

Entering the industrial software world in 2012 was by far my most daring career change. Approaching and engaging with smart digital technologies introduced me to the possibility of connecting real-time insights across process, partners, products, and people. My goal as the academic program manager   is to bring the real-world applications of these insights to global university labs and allowed the students the opportunity to experience industry-standard engineering software before entering the world of work

As a company, AVEVA is committed to giving students – the engineers of the future – the support and opportunities they need to strive for excellence.

How does the competition help students develop a career in STEM?  

The AVEVA Academic Competition gives students the opportunity to transpose classroom-learned skills onto real-life engineering problems. Our competition also provides a framework for students to demonstrate their talents and pathway for securing related internships and jobs.

During the competition, students receive guidance from experts, which means they are effectively in the spotlight for hiring managers.

Participating in and winning a competition is also great way to stand out from a crowd and build their resumes.

My advice to all students is to seek out and exploit enriching and stimulating opportunities that will connect them to the STEM world. 

What is AVEVA Process Simulation and why is it so important?

AVEVA Process Simulation is a versatile process design platform that allows students to navigate the steady state portion of the simulation, as well as pressure driven and dynamic factors.

In the real world of processes, AVEVA Process Simulation promotes sustainability through the minimization of operating costs by optimizing design, equipment and margins.

For academia, AVEVA Process Simulation being the first available platform to take advantage of developing web-based and cloud technologies, can deliver an enjoyable use experience so that students can be productive and creative.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The role has given rise to many wonderful moments. Empowering students by giving them access to the complexity of the industrial reality through the competition has been so gratifying. The competition is giving students the opportunity to develop employability skills and many of them who participated in our past competitions are now working for big industrial companies like BASF or Covestro. Having a small impact in their career journey has been a great source of motivation for me and I consider myself fortunate to see the brilliant ideas the future engineers have. I can say with great confidence, our future is bright!

I’m excited also to say that having Ryan Muir – our first competition winner – as a colleague is one of most wonderful gains. I am looking forward to meeting more future participants and seeing them build their careers.

When is the next AVEVA competition and how can students get involved?

The AVEVA Academic Competition is an annual competition. And this year we will launch our 2022 Competition at AIChE in Boston. Click here to find out more.


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