Owen Steel’s Malik Anees Embraces the Shift from Researcher to Quality Inspector

For Malik Anees, moving from Pakistan to the U.S. meant trading environmental science research and academic journal recognition for a career in quality inspection at Owen Steel. The transition wasn’t easy: in choosing a path with more opportunity, Anees, 35, left behind an established life and an immersive field of study.

“Everything has changed,” Anees says. “I wish I could do the same thing over here, but I’m happy to still be in a related field. A couple of friends of mine were in this industry, and they motivated me. I was lucky to get an opportunity like this with better money. That’s why I chose it.”

In Pakistan, Anees got his master’s degree in environmental science, but growing up, he dreamed of becoming a structural engineer. He likes that working in the steel industry has brought him full circle--and he finds humor in the occasional reminder of why he strayed in the first place.

“I still hate math,” Anees says. “I was always a bit more interested in social issues like climate change; that came more easily to me.”

Anees has been at Owen Steel for almost seven years. In that time, he has learned the ins and outs of steel fabrication, gotten his American Welding Society (AWS) certification, and made good use of the knowledge he gained through safety-related internships after college.

“I’m learning still,” Anees says. “I learn new stuff every day. This job is a tough job. When I’m home, I’m thinking about work. I’m thinking, ‘Maybe I was wrong, maybe I [marked up] the wrong side of the beam.’”

Though life in New Castle County, Del., has been an adjustment for him, Anees feels grateful that changing course has brought him better opportunities, a stable income, and more time with his wife and three children.

This story is part of Visions in Steel: The People Who Bring Designs to Life, exhibiting through April 19 at the Center for DesignPhiladelphia. Visions in Steel shines a light on the fitters, welders, machine operators, and other professionals the steel industry relies on every day to bring designs from concept to reality. Interested in bringing Visions in Steel to your city or your fabrication shop? Reach out to Hope Hrabowy at