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Niels Jensen - CEO

Niels is a national of Denmark, and he obtained his M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark, which already in 1981, at the time Niels graduated with a PhD in Chemical Engineering from University of Alberta, started a course titled  risk assessment in chemical industry based on idea developed by Associate Professor H.J. Styhr Petersen and J.Robert Taylor. Niels had the honor of taking over teaching the course at the retirement of Styhr Petersen in the late nineties. 

After graduating from DTU Niels spent a year in the Danish Airforce working on safe communication between and within military units engaged in the Copenhagen defense. Encouraged by Professor John Villadsen at DTU, Niels applied to several Canadian and US universities to study for a Ph.D. degree, and was indeed accepted both at University of Alberta in Edmonton and University of Chicago at Urbana-Campaign. The coin felt out in favor of Edmonton, but before the trip across the Atlantic Niels contributed to improving the practive of sewage dilution and dissolution calculations for sewage pipeline design based on radioactive isotope measurements, and also contributed to the scientific screening work on the condition of sediments in internal Danish coastal waters prior to the construction of the Great Belt Bridge and Tunnel many years later. 

On a very cold - it was not possible to decide if the measurement was in Celsius or Fahrenheit - January evening in 1976 Niels arrived in Edmonton after a stopover in Montreal due to snowstorms on the way across the Atlantic. The first and most pressing task was to buy a pair of warm winter boots, and then Niels took up residence as a graduate student in Pembina Hall. Initially the PhD studies, which focused on process control were supervised by Professor Dale Seborg and Professor Sirish Shah. However, when Dr. Seaborg and his family moved to warmer climates at Santa Barbara Professor D. Grant Fisher toke over as lead supervisor, and the focus of the study became extensions to frequency domain techniques to allow multiloop design of single loop controllers. A major software package called Gemscope for frequency domain design of multivariable controllers was also developed during that time, as well as an improvement in the assessment of stability of the multivariable controllers.

At the end of the PhD studies in 1981 Niels has a choice between joining two Sarnia integrated oil companies: Shell and Imperial Oil Limited (IOL), and IOL won. A significant part of the next half year was spent in hotels, first a couple of months in Sarnia with occasional courses in New Jersey, and then a couple of months in Toronto, and at the end of the year a month in Phoenix, Arizona. At IOL Niels joined the  Sarnia Linear Low Density Polyethylene (SPEP) project as the control engineer responsible for the reactor product quality control. This ended as a multivariable model based controller based on on-line measurements of gas-composition, a model of polymer properties based on the gas-composition and a simple mixing reactor model with additional feedback from laboratory measurements to adjust model parameters. The time at SPEP also involved development of the first on-line condensed phase models for composition estimation and property prediction, as well as - failed - attempts of using AI for reactor transition control.

Imperial Oils view on process safety became vividly clear upon returning from a 10 day introduction to process computer control the Exxon way. I was informed, that entrance of any plant sites prior to completion of employee safety training was prohibited, and the next safety training was in about 2 weeks time. This was quite a surprise, since during the interview visit some months earlier I visited two of the site control rooms. Over the coming years the interest in process safety grew, and resulted in participation in site housekeeping tours after two fatal accidents within the same month and brainstorming with process operators and technicians about the dangers of hydrogen sulfide as well as a survey of the engineering department aiming for certification under the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA) of Ontario.

During the years at University of Alberta Niels shared office with several Japanese post docs. After returning to Denmark the connection with these Japanese friends were reestablished, and resulted in several trip to Japan over the past years. So the characters to the right is Niels in Japanese.