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2011 Engineer of the Year: Douglas Kriebel, PE

Doug_Kriebel_AIChE-DVS_candidate_for_EOY_2011_croppedEngineer of the Year for 2011, Douglas Kriebel, PE, sums up the engineer’s role in society in just a few words – they make things better.  With over forty years of experience in the ever-evolving field of chemical engineering, Kriebel proudly declares that engineers improve the quality of life, health and well being of the human race.  In fact, Kriebel goes so far as to say the advancement of civilization depends on engineers. 

“Engineering is a lofty and noble profession,” says Kriebel.  “I feel great about being an engineer.”  It’s his passion for his profession, his ground-breaking work in the field, and his dedication to cultivating future engineers that have earned Kriebel the 2011 Engineer of the Year moniker.

As Engineer of the Year Kriebel is not only interested in carrying out the mission of Engineers Week and the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia  – which is to advance the engineering field and to make people aware of the contributions made by engineers – but he’s anxious to do so.

“I’m really excited to get the chance to share information about the engineering profession with those who are unfamiliar with what we do, and I’m also anxious to work with my fellow engineering professionals to address the engineering challenges of the future,” says Kriebel.

For the lay person, Kriebel reminds us that “engineers really are responsible for every material thing in our lives.  From the moment we awake in the morning, until we go to sleep at night we are utilizing and touched by things that have been brought to us by engineers.” 

As part of his outreach, Kriebel intends to make the public aware of the significant contributions engineers have made – and continue to make – to the improvement of life.  In doing so he references the 20 Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century according to the National Academy of Engineering (http://www.greatachievements.org/). “With electrification, the automobile, the airplane, water supply and distribution, and electronics making the top five, one can only imagine life without any of these –not to mention the remaining 15, “says Kriebel.

Professionally Speaking

Kriebel founded Kriebel Engineered Equipment, LTD in 1989.  Since its inception, he has held the position of President and CEO of the company that serves as a manufacturer’s representative and distributor of chemical process equipment.    Kriebel’s firm provides solutions to the Chemical Process, Hydrocarbon Process, Power Generation and General Industries.  Recognized as an innovative leader in his field, Kriebel has launched programs that educate operating facilities (his customers) on equipment selections that help reduce energy usage, greenhouse gases and carbon footprints.  With these reductions becoming a national and global priority Kriebel feels it is his duty and responsibility to guide his clients to select and utilize equipment that accomplishes these reductions.

Kriebel’s path to becoming the technology leader at Kriebel Engineered Equipment, LTD started with earning a BS in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University.  Following employment at Philadelphia Electric Company, as a station operating engineer, and at Schutte and Koerting as an applications engineer, Kriebel worked for Ingersoll Rand Corporation.  Starting out as an applications engineer, he progressed through positions of increased responsibility and authority and gained recognition for his work on a national level.  During Kriebel’s tenure at Ingersoll Rand he honed his technical and managerial skills through courses at Columbia, Michigan State University and Texas A&M. 

The notion of advancing his studies and obtaining degrees within, and outside of, the engineering curriculum is something that Kriebel strongly believes in for himself and for all engineers of today.  When advising up-and-coming engineers Kriebel reports that, “One of the biggest challenges facing the engineering community today is the changing roles and responsibilities for jobs.  In the past, an engineer was given an assignment or job that was relatively narrow in scope.  He or she was given the luxury of mastering a small area of expertise and was then allowed to remain in that area of concentration for years.”

“Today,” continues Kriebel, “mastering one area of engineering, or accumulating a vast amount of expertise within a sliver of engineering, is no longer seen as a necessity or a positive skill set.  Instead, businesses have adapted a model whereby an engineer is expected to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of most of them.  Employers are looking for a cross-pollinated talent pool that can manage different assignments and different job functions.  Individuals are required to be well-rounded and know not only their current role, but they are also expected to have a keen understanding of how their position impacts others within the organization.  Interestingly, this often requires a strong understanding of non-engineering functions such as tax, finance, regulation, safety, etc.,” concludes Kriebel.

Outside of the Workplace

Despite a rigorous work schedule Kriebel stays focused on paying back to the profession by mentoring engineering students via technical training and career guidance, and by taking an active role in the professional society, The American Institute of Chemical Engineers Delaware Valley Section. 

During his decades long volunteer run with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Kriebel has been active as a board member, an award winning newsletter editor and has served as a the chairperson for various internal and external outreach committees.   In addition, Kriebel is also an active member of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers and the Chemical Consultants Network.  Recognized as an authority in the field, Kriebel is a highly sought after speaker on technical topics such as pumps, hydraulic systems, water treatment and air pollution control and he is regularly called upon to addresses professional societies, trade show attendees, industrial and engineering companies, and university students.

When not working or volunteering, Kriebel enjoys spending time with his family, socializing with friends at the Philadelphia Union League and participating in hobbies, including fly fishing and cooking.

And just when friends and family think that Kriebel has had enough of his profession, he surprises them by applying his engineering skills to one of his very favorite hobbies – sailing. Kriebel reports that friends who visit him at the shore not only get a ride on his Hobie Cat – a small, very fast and very easily capsizable catamaran – but they also learn to sail.  “Whether they realize it or not,” Kriebel reports, “I am constantly using engineering principles to guide my shipmates.  I use vector theory to explain the difference between relative wind and true wind.  I use hydraulics to explain the effect of laminar vs. turbulent flow on hull speed.  I use the fluid flow theory to explain how the wind “lifts” the sails to leeward, and mechanics to explain how to balance the boat by hiking out to counter the boats “heeling” and pitching.” 

Whether it’s at the helm of his business, on the board of a professional society or as the captain of his sailboat, Kriebel not only embodies the qualities of Engineer of the Year, he enjoys the life of an engineer.