Liz Del Cid joined bulk material engineering firm Jenike & Johanson as a research and development (R&D) engineer in 2018. In her current role, she conducts research on new particle modeling technologies and methods, develops DEM particle shapes and contacts, and performs DEM modeling for specialized projects.
Prior to her work with J&J, Del Cid spent more than six years as a research engineer for Overland Conveyor Co. Inc. She has also had a role as an adjunct professor at the Colorado School of Mines.
Del Cid earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, and an MS and Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.
Powder & Bulk Solids recently asked Del Cid a few questions about her experiences and background as an engineer to provide insight on the various engineering roles within the powder and bulk solids industry.
What is the most rewarding part of working in the field as an engineer to you?
DEL CID: I have been in the field for over a decade now and the most thrilling part of being an engineer has been finding solutions to difficult problems. My favorite part is sitting down to examine the situation, learning about the problem, studying the subject, and working my way to a solution that will be successful.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job as an engineer?
DEL CID: The most challenging part has been learning to maintain a balance between the fine details of a problem while the keeping in mind the big picture. As a R&D engineer, I love working the math and physics behind a problem but need to remember to take a step back and make sure I am grasping the big picture of the problem at hand. It is similar with numerical modeling in simulations, we spend time tuning the parameters that describe the physics at the micro-scale while aiming to model the macro scale real world problem.
How did your educational experience(s) prepare you to work in the field?
DEL CID: I find you need a solid understanding of the fundamentals to work in the bulk solids field. Then good spatial reasoning to visualize the changes each solution brings. A thorough understanding of the courses in math, engineering, and physics has given me an advantage to see the world through numbers. I find that to be the best outcome of my educational career and it is quite beautiful.
If you could go back and do it again, what would you change about your engineering education?
DEL CID: I had the opportunity to learn by doing while at CalPoly, but I did not find my love for the numerical until I attended Colorado School of Mines. If I could change one thing about my engineering education, I would have spent more time in the Mathematics department in my undergrad years. I missed some interesting course work that I did not have the time to take as a graduate student. Who knew I would be lamenting not taking a class on proofs and statistics?
What’s the single most valuable lesson you have learned as an engineer – either in the classroom or in the field?
DEL CID: There comes a time when you have to admit that you do not know how to solve a problem and you have to be ok with saying it aloud, and ask for help. I take these as opportunities to learn something new from the experts who do. The sooner you can identify that you need help, the sooner you can do something about it. I assure you, after you learn, you will not forget how to solve a problem like it again.
How do you think your engineering role will change over the next decade?
DEL CID: Technology is always advancing. I explore material rheology and I have seen new, and tougher materials to describe and model year to year. I am excited to see what new materials are developed in the coming decade. Foremost, I would like to see a greater transfer of knowledge between senior and junior engineers. I am working on teaching newer engineers my field, Discrete Element Modeling, as I spend time learning from my mentors the lessons they have learned over their 45+ years in industry.
The R&D engineer will present a session, “The Future of Computational Modeling & Simulation for Powers, Bulk Solids & Dry Manufacturing Processes,” on April 29 during the International Powder & Bulk Solids Digital Conference. Join Powder & Bulk Solids and Del Cid for this must-attend event.
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