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Rob Manuel

Rob Manuel
Upper Nicola Indian Band, Merritt, British Columbia
Bachelor of Petroleum Engineering
Job title: 
Petroleum Engineer

Type(s) of Engineering:

Favourite thing: 

"Combining the high tech of petroleum engineering with community outreach."

More on Rob

Rob Manuel is a Petroleum Engineer who works for Shell Canada. He often goes out to talk to Indigenous students about engineering careers. "I tell them, hey, I grew up on a reserve, I failed grade 10 math and I got a degree in engineering. It pretty much takes away their excuses."

Mr. Manuel worked for Shell for 2 summers before graduating from the University of Alberta in 1995. The company hired him right away. He is part of a team which is studying the possibility of extracting heavy oil from the ground, and he loves it. "There is an awesome potential for the future of Canada in heavy oil reserves," he explains, "It's exciting to be a part of this type of team. I get to work with top level people.

"Oil is a hydrocarbon. Its molecules are made up of made up of hydrogen and carbon atoms. It is refined into a number of different products like gasoline, kerosene and jet fuels. One of the main differences between these products is the number of carbon atoms in their molecules - natural gas molecules, for instance, contain only 4 carbon atoms, and are very light. Heavy oil has a lot of carbon atoms in its molecules (over 60 as a matter of fact), and is much heavier. Special processes are needed to extract it from the ground and to refine it into useful products.

As a Native person working at Shell, Mr. Manuel says, "I bring a different way of thinking to the table - some people embrace it. I have a passion for the Indigenous side that sometimes outweighs engineering. I count on elders and parents and what people have taught me to be there. When I speak, it's them speaking." Balancing his two worlds is all part of the challenge he loves, "My mentality is where's the biggest challenge and I'll show you I can do it."

Mr. Manuel encourages young Native people to stay in school and get an education so they can contribute to the development of their communities. "Try to develop an attitude where you'd rather attempt to do something great and fail, than do nothing and succeed. And, if you don't know why you should try to do something great, find a reason, get a reason." Failure, he explains, is all part of learning, "I speak like I do today because of the times I failed. I don't beat myself up about it. Next time it happens, whatever it is, I won't do it that way again."

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