R&D engineer at VAM USA
“I was a machine operator and an R&D assistant at a capacitor film company in Germany for 8 years. When I moved to the United States, in 2006, I went to the University of Houston and graduated in 2010, a well-armed engineer! I came across Vallourec by chance: I brought my stepdaughter to a job fair when I stumbled upon Steve Langford, the VAM® R&D manager in Houston. Our exchanges were stimulating and warm: I left Halliburton and I joined the Vallourec family in 2012.
The greatest appeal of my job was the balance between theoretical knowledge, hands-on lab work, and international exchanges with clients and fellow engineers. A perfect combination! My husband and I have always enjoyed travelling worldwide so I feel very fortunate that my job regularly brings me to France, Germany and Japan.”
R&D at work
Bianka is now a one of three Team Leads at VAM USA R&D center, with 2 R&D engineers supporting her in an effort to qualify VAM® premium connections. Her job is critical for the customers. There are 3 main aspects of research and development carried out in Vallourec R&D labs. First, qualification testing: that means testing connections to make sure they fully conform to ISO and customer specifications; secondly, expand the range of products and solutions to answer the needs of increasingly stringent client applications; and, ultimately, creating prototypes to break technical barriers for new applications and extreme environments. The stakes are high as safety and competitiveness are key in every project, and the reliability of VAM® connections is crucial, at the heart of every project. “You see,” Bianka explains, “a customer will buy our Vallourec pipe with the VAM® premium connection that works best for them. It must be optimal for their application and prove efficient in the field. Our goal is for the customer to be 100% confident in our solutions.” The best way to perfection is working together with engineers, field experts and clients.
“Our lab is quite different from how most people view laboratories: instead of tiny test tubes, there are large pieces of pipe. Instead of mixing chemicals, we load connection assemblies in 5 million pound load frames! We welcome professionals from our network of R&D centers worldwide, as well as customers and fellow engineers, while we, in turn, visit other labs in Europe and Japan. These interactions are essential to broaden our knowledge and improve our solutions and technologies: seeing how others are progressing keeps us on our toes!”
Spanning the elements
“In 2013, I went on my first visit to our partner R&D center at Nippon Steel Sumitomo Metals Corp (NSSMC) R&D center, in Japan. It was quite an experience. But I admit, upon arriving in Osaka for the first time, I was a bit lost… Fortunately, a Japanese engineer was there to greet me and accompany me to the testing facility; otherwise I’d still be at Osaka station, trying to find my bearings! We had time to chat on the way. I found out he was a space fan and had studied aerospace engineering before joining NSSMC. I could easily relate to his passion, since Houston is a space city and my husband works on the International Space Station program.” Bianka proves, once more, that engineering opens to all horizons!