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Vlada Sonic: Royal Wagenborg Internship Experience

My name is Vlada Sonic, a 22 years old Engineer from the Republic of Moldova. As part of the Projects & Newbuilding team at Royal Wagenborg I was engaged in the Fuel Consumption Optimization Project for the Oranjeborg vessel. The fuel costs and the impact on the environment concern Wagenborg deeply. As a result of being a family company, the cooperation, determination and ease with which problems are solved in the fastest possible way was astonishing to see. 

As I just finished the BSc Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Groningen, the background that I had wasn’t much related to ships and I knew little about how they are built and operate. During my BSc I mostly studied process control, computer aided design and production techniques. Thus, I had to go from the beginning through all the stages of getting acquainted with this new field and understanding what was needed for me to start solving and analysing the problem.


I found the subject proposed for me to research a very interesting one, especially since the steps for reaching the goal were yet to be discovered. The benefit was that I had the liberty of organizing my own research and looking into things that raised questions for me. The investigation concerned the propeller design as well as the combinatory mode operation. Together with Wieger Duursema, we analysed each case separately and compared the design settings with the actual ones on the ship. After several discussions we found that the Controller on the ship worked well while its settings were wrongly defined. Furthermore, a mistake in the translation of Pitch to OD box setting was identified which meant that the operation of the vessel had an even bigger offset.

As something had to be done, the ABB, Kongsberg and Wagenborg Engineering teams came together for a period of 4 days to commence some sea trials and to adjust the mismatched settings. It was a once in a lifetime experience for me as I never sailed on a vessel. Being on the sea while at the same time conducting real engineering work was the first hands-on experience I acquired after finishing the bachelor’s degree. The trials resulted in a success and after adjusting the most important settings, the vessel performed as expected and the fuel consumption was considerably reduced.

The ship crew welcomed us and were very receptive to any initiative to improve the performance of the vessel. We were happy to work closely with the Engineers on board and therefore, cooperation allowed us to achieve the best results possible.

Following this Internship, I expect to begin my MSc in Control Systems at Imperial College London. The fact that I could see a real application and working principle of the control theory coupled with marine engineering on board of Oranjeborg assured me that it is indeed the direction I want to take later in my career.

It was a fantastic experience and I look forward to the future problems that I will have to solve in my career as a Control Engineer.

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