Collaborative Structure Guides Engineer Through Seamless Transition at Nexus

Luis Contreras shares his experience as a Senior Process Engineer at Nexus’ Midland, Michigan office and his appreciation for the Nexus processes that have helped make him successful.

Tell me about a typical day in your life at Nexus working in the Midland office. How does the Midland team manage a multitude of client projects at once?

Our project team meets with a project scheduler on a weekly or biweekly basis. Each discipline must understand their deliverables for each project as stated in the Scope of Services. Together, we determine what each discipline needs to achieve and assign estimated due dates. After project team meetings conclude, I prioritize project activities for the rest of the day based on timing and needs. At Nexus, we always have a balance of long-term and short-term projects at once.

It is important for me to stay on schedule and to track due dates because my timeline connects to when others can start or end their work. If one engineer’s discipline is behind schedule or off timeline, it impacts an entire project. The key to my day-to-day at Nexus is collaboration, critical thinking, and constant communication.

What is something you wish you had known as a young process engineer?

I come from a family of restauranteurs and entrepreneurs. I met my first mentors in engineering at the collegiate level. I would tell young process engineers to continuously pursue internships and seek mentors. Never stop learning because there is always something new popping up in our industry that will streamline a process, method, or skill. With over 25 years of experience, I still pursue opportunities that educate me on what is new.

Most of your career has been spent on the owner side. What attracted you to consulting?

Consulting allows me to focus on core chemical engineering principles, design, and good engineering practices using state-of-the-art plant design tools and resources. Though my degree is in chemical engineering, working on the owner side has given me the opportunity to dabble in other engineering disciplines such as mechanical and instrumentation and controls. Because I have experienced practical application and construction of various engineering disciplines, I’ve seen the end-result of the long hours of the design work. I bring diverse insight into manufacturing processes and can approach consulting projects from many vantage points and design.

The structured process at Nexus is like following the steps to a recipe, and this is what leads to our success. I love that we meet as a team to talk through a project. We come together to discuss the problem then go our separate ways to spend time on our piece of the puzzle. Seeing how our collaborative process brings a design to life is the most fulfilling part of being an engineer at Nexus, and one of the reasons why I wanted to work in consulting.

What advice would you give to an experienced engineer looking to make the jump from owner side to consulting?

If someone is interested in the transition to consulting, they must see the importance and enjoyment of collaborating with multiple disciplines – some of which may be unfamiliar to them. Consulting is an ideal industry for someone who is a lifelong learner and who is a hands-on engineer that wants to understand the holistic process.

Nexus’ project governance process is a methodology that offers our team logical, sequential steps to execute projects accurately and efficiently. This process allows us to work on multiple projects at once. Nexus attracts clients who seek a structured approach because project governance processes have been lacking in-house or are nonexistent at the engineering firms they have worked with in the past. Our clients never have to worry about a project – no detail, big, small, or invisible, will be missed. This makes the transition to consulting less intimidating.

About Nexus Engineering Group LLC

Nexus Engineering Group LLC is a full-service, independent engineering firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio with offices in Toledo, Ohio, Midland, Michigan, and Oak Brook, Illinois. Nexus is focused on supporting clients’ specific project goals from concept to startup. Since 2005, clients have recognized Nexus as the engineering services firm of choice in the refining, petroleum midstream, chemical, manufacturing and utilities industries.

With more than 225 professionals on staff, Nexus is made up of experienced process, instrumentation and controls, structural engineering, electrical, mechanical engineering, and piping professionals with decades of hands-on conceptual and detailed system design, construction and project management experience.

Nexus delivers project designs that reduce overall risks resulting in safer work environments. By utilizing state-of-the-art software and innovative design tools, Nexus consistently meets client project and investment requirements. Get to know us and you will agree that Nexus is not your typical engineering firm – “Engineering Relationships.”

For more information, visit