This week, we’d like to focus on Andreas Lutzen, a 44-year-old Danish national living in Hong Kong with his family. Andreas works for Hempel China Ltd, a marine and protective coatings company. Andreas has completed our 100-level general chemistry sequence and is currently taking CH 331 Organic Chemistry.
How did you find our chemistry program? Any advice for us that would have made that process easier for you?
Having had some success with online education before, I was looking for an opportunity to study chemistry while holding down a day job. Pending an extensive search, I found that only OSU could offer a well-functioning platform for online chemistry studies. To my knowledge, there is in fact not that much competition around in the area of university-level chemistry distance learning. Some institutions offer programs that I would characterize as “thin,” and others offer programs that are too demanding to be realistic if you have a job. OSU has struck the right balance in my view.
Please share your background so we can get to know you better—how did you end up where you are on this journey?
I work in the technical service department of Hempel, a major coatings supplier within the area of industrial and marine paints, and studying chemistry is the thing I need to take my understanding of things to the next level. That is, I already have certificates and experience in on-site coating inspection, factory audits and so on, but knowledge of the underlying science of the whole affair—chemistry—is still not part of my toolbox. This is something I wish to change.
To give you an idea of my work content: I will go and do coatings inspection for, say, the docking of a ship. That is, I help plan the application by making a paint specification and by ensuring the right quantities and qualities of paint are ordered. During the actual docking of the ship, I am on site agreeing with yard and ship-owners on a painting time-table, overseeing the actual application ensuring that climatic conditions are acceptable for painting, salt content of abrasive not too high, that the paint is properly mixed (stoichiometry) and so on and so forth. As you can see from this, chemistry is central to what we do in the coatings industry, and hence the things you teach at OSU are very valuable to me in getting a better and deeper understanding of my work.
What inspired you to choose the career path you are working towards?
I joined the coatings industry sort of by chance. I have never regretted ending up here, however. The drama of chemistry, different cultures (most projects are of an international nature) and commercial interest clashing, as they do in our industry, is intense. One might be stressed out and vexed from time to time, but work here is never boring! My goal is simply to become better at what I am doing, and the inspiration for that is pretty straightforward: Nothing beats being good at what you do. The joy that comes from being good at something lasts a lifetime; it cannot be taken away from you.
Do you have any advice for other online students?
You have to want this to succeed. Only personal interest and a good fit with career plans and goals are sufficient to power the sustained effort needed to be able to pull this through. On a personal level, I experience this right now, as I am struggling with organic chemistry, which is much harder than originally anticipated. I have already made up my mind to push on, even though temporary setbacks may come to visit. If you really want something, having to redo a course or two is no more than a bump on the road. On a practical level, my advice is this: Work the problems, work the problems, and work the problems. Chemistry cannot be read and memorized; it has to be worked to be understood.
What is next for you?
Maybe a job with the complaints-handling unit at our HQ. Having spent more than a decade in China and in the field, moving back to HQ in Europe would be a good next step. Needless to say knowledge of chemistry is going to be indispensable in that job.
Thank you Andreas for sharing your experience and insight with us! Good luck in the rest of your term and your professional endeavors!