Meet Tania whose research focuses on hydrogen fueling stations and maintenance strategy optimization in mechanical systems

Student Spotlight

Name: Tania Avelino Chongo

Year in program: Second year Masters in Reliability Engineering

Advisor: Dr. Katrina Groth

Research Interests: Maintenance strategy optimization in mechanical systems (Oil and gas industries), Hydrogen fueling stations

Dissertation topic (if applicable): N/A

What drew you to engineering?

Since high school, I have loved construction and design. I have always been fascinated by the process of building houses with unique and diverse designs, and how the ceiling can remain intact even during heavy rainfall. Initially, I was drawn to Civil Engineering, but over time, I fell in love with Mechanical Engineering. As I grew older, my interest shifted towards understanding how massive structures like boats can remain afloat and how airplanes can stay in the sky without crashing.

What made you choose UMD and the ENRE Program?

As a Project and Maintenance Engineer, I focused on coordinating maintenance activities for equipment installed at fuel stations in rural areas. Unfortunately, I often dealt with consecutive failures that led to significant downtime at the stations. Despite having new equipment, I struggled to explain to my manager why these systems failed. As a result of these frequent failures, I constantly had misunderstandings with suppliers/vendors. My desire to solve the downtime problem at fuel stations led me to expand my skills.

Shortly after, a friend introduced me to the ENRE Program, which focuses on identifying system failure causes and prevention. I did not know anything about reliability. Intrigued, I researched the program and discovered that it focuses on failures in systems (why/how/when systems fail, and how to mitigate failures). So, I said yes! I became excited and believed the coursework would help me gain the expertise I needed to reduce equipment downtime and mitigate supplier problems. I am eager to apply these skills and become an expert in analyzing failures in mechanical systems.

What do you want people to know about reliability engineering that they may not know?

By learning techniques to prevent system failures and reducing their frequency, reliability engineering can be incredibly helpful. Reliability studies examine why systems fail, how they fail, and how to improve equipment lifespan, resulting in improved maintainability. Understanding when to change a system is crucial for optimal performance.

A fun fact about you? Not related to engineering!

My father had a strong desire to see me become a medical doctor to save people’s lives, and he spared no effort in persuading me to pursue medicine. Similarly, I also aspire for my daughter to become a medical doctor. However, I would prefer she pursues engineering instead because it is fun and provides opportunities to solve problems.