Swage Talks Associate Spotlight:
Brandon Van Bilsen, Technical Support Engineer (EIT)
Learn more about Brandon Van Bilsen in the Q&A below!
1. How long have you been an Engineer and what discipline? How many years of experience do you have in total?
Brandon: I graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton in 2016, with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering. I did a 16-month co-op at Suncor Energy in Sarnia, and I loved learning about the process of taking raw materials and creating a finished product. I loved analyzing ways to optimize the process. After graduation, I started my career in 2016 at VIP Rail as Health and Safety Manager, with a focus on process safety in the transloading of petrochemical products from truck to railcar and railcar to truck. From there, I joined the Polyethylene Reactor and Finishing group at Imperial Oil as a Technical Contact Engineer. Being so closely involved with operations and maintenance, I learned a lot about Swagelok. My favourite part was working with customers on optimizing fluid systems. So when I read a job description for a role at Swagelok, I had to apply. I was hired in the summer of 2020. I will be working towards my Professional Engineer (P.Eng) designation this year. I look forward to helping customers find efficient solutions to their problems in the years to come.
2. In your own words, can you describe what you do for Swagelok and how you help our customers with their challenges? What does a day in the life look like?
Brandon: As a Technical Support Engineer, my primary focus is solving complex fluid system problems and providing ongoing technical support and service. A lot of our customers rely on our team's technical knowledge of fluid system solutions. Whether it is finding the right valve for an application, or navigating a complex gas distribution system, my support doesn't stop after the order is made. I treat all requests with the same respect and attention. I consider myself to be a full-time student, who listens closely to the customer's needs. If I don't know an answer, I will conduct research and speak with subject matter experts to understand the problem and the best path forward. I listen first and ask clarifying questions, so that I truly understand the customer's pain points.
When it comes to what my day looks like, I enjoy routine. I live a "work hard, play hard" lifestyle. I work hard to deliver on promises to customers throughout my workday. After work, I keep my body and mind in tip top shape. I work out and play sports almost every day after work. At night, I tend to relax and play with my dog Colby, learn a new skill on YouTube, or work on my snowmobile/jeep or a renovation project.
3. How did you get started in this industry? What do you enjoy about it?
4. What do you find rewarding about your work as an engineer? What do you see as your impact on customers?
5. What is the most notable customer challenge you've helped solve recently? Anything unique or different?
6. Besides basic necessities, what is one thing you could not go a day without?
Brandon: I couldn't go a day without my dog Colby. We rescued him from the shelter as a senior dog with severe anxiety issues. I've worked with him a lot, spent many hours training him and bonding with him, and now we're inseparable. At 12 years old, he can still outrun me—and that says a lot because I keep a good pace. I need Colby as much as he needs me.
7. Tell us a little bit about your hobbies or interests outside of work. What inspires you?
8. Ask me about _________?
Brandon: Any fluid system challenge. If I don't know the answer at the time, I'll get back to you promptly with relevant information from Swagelok's global network of Subject Matter Experts.
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