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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Success Stories

About me:
Taylor Angle
B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2015)
Focus in polymers, Minor in Entrepreneurship
DuPont, Vespel® Circleville, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Manufacturing Technology Engineer:
My role provides process, materials, and/or equipment engineering technical expertise in a technology area to manufacturing operations in order to maintain production performance or restore process capability when the product or standard process is no longer stable, predictable or in control.  I participate as part of a team to upgrade products and processes by implementing modifications ranging from incremental daily improvements to technology game changes.  I am also responsible for improving process instrumentation and control strategies, evaluating process safety, yields, capacity, and uptime performance.  In addition, my role helps to train operations personnel and build technical understanding in the manufacturing line organization to maintain and enhance operations.  Lastly, I serve as a first response to plant technical issues, assist in troubleshooting processes or equipment issues, and implement best practices for the manufacturing process.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Good communication is key. I must be able to communicate clearly and concisely with operations, management, research and development, and many other functions. Technical ability is also necessary for being successful in my role. While much of what you learn about the process will be on the job, you must be able to use fundamental chemical engineering knowledge to troubleshoot issues in a logical manner. Self motivation will also bring success. You must have the desire and drive to seek out improvement opportunities and follow-through with root cause analysis and problem solving, or any other issues that are brought to your attention.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
There are three pieces of advice I would give to students considering majoring in chemical engineering. First, always be willing to step outside your comfort zone, get involved, and never give up. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is how you grow as an individual and as a professional. Whether it be doing a year-long multi-disciplinary capstone course instead of the normal design course, taking a co-op position in manufacturing even though you wanted a research position, or joining a club where you don’t know anyone, those are the situations in which you will learn the most about yourself. Second, getting involved in things outside of work or your major is also extremely important as it will make you a more well-rounded person. For example, I am still involved in the entrepreneurship project I worked on throughout my senior year even though it has nothing to do with my current role as an engineer. Also, maintain a work / life balance. Joining extracurricular activities such as sports leagues can lead to building a social network. And finally, engineering is a challenging field. But understand that it is also very rewarding, and perseverance is key throughout the tough curriculum. Hard work does pay off.

About me: 
Mark Bartholomew
B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2017)
The AZEK Company, Wilmington, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Associate Materials Engineer:
As an Associate Materials Engineer, I identify and develop new materials, design or improve current plastics technologies. I analyze and research opportunities for cost performance of current PVC and wood plastic composite products. My responsibilities also include researching literature/IP for freedom to operate in potential new products and assiting production with potential material and processing issues.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
In order to be successful in this position, you need to posses knowledge of basic rheology and morphology of plastics: how the material flows, melt and fusion point, cell structure, densities. Experience in analytical equipment is required to perform thermal and chemical analyses: DSCs, TGA, FTIR. xperience in extrusion of various plastics such as PVC and Wood Plastic Composites. In addition, you need to be proficient in software such as SolidWorks, JMP, and Excel. This role requires one to be adaptive to a fast paced environment and excellent technical writing skills.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
For anyone looking to become a chemical engineer, understand that it is more than just chemicals. You may not know what you want to do but that's okay because I didn't either. I started out thinking I had to go to a chemical refinery because that was the only thing chemical engineers did. As a chemical engineering major, you can do just about anything. Plastics, food processing, management, sales, pharmaceuticals and more. Find something you're passionate about and pursue it. 

As for the classes, understand that the professors are teaching you theory. It is your job to later apply it. I can tell you that I haven't taken a derivative since college but I have used the concept about every day. To really get your worth out of college in ChemE, I highly recommend a statistical analysis class (CBE 5779) due to the ability to apply it to every job. In addition, Unit Operations is a fantastic class in that it teaches you how to write a structured report.  

Finally, just have fun! The 8AM - 5 PM adult world is great and all but enjoy your time in College. Allocate spending time with friends and family and get the most out of your experience.

About me: 
Josh Colley
B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2016)
Ashland, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Production Engineer:
Working in a chemical plant, my first responsibility is safety, for both myself and for my coworkers. Right now, my other main job responsibility has been working with a team to produce a new Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient for a client conducting clinical trials on a new drug. I’ve helped see this process go from a 5 gram scale in our R&D lab to a +50 kg scale in the plant, and I have been heavily involved every step of the way. Working with chemists to familiarize ourselves with the process, figuring out how to fit the process into the equipment we have in the plant, leading and coordinating process hazard and safety studies, brainstorming process optimization ideas to improve cycle time and throughput while minimizing waste, getting raw materials into the plant and product out the door – I get to do it all, literally hands on. I use my knowledge I gained from Dr. Callam in Organic Chemistry just as much as I use my knowledge I gained from all my ChemE professors to provide technical manufacturing support on a number of different products ranging from pharmaceuticals to personal care products. Every day provides new challenges and opportunities to solve problems with my team.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role: 
A strong technical background in organic chemistry and chemical engineering is key to working in the pharmaceutical and fine chemicals industry, but it’s definitely not the only thing you need to succeed. Anyone with manufacturing experience will be sure to tell you that it can be a stressful environment with a lot of demands. Communication skills, emotional intelligence, and a positive, solutions-oriented attitude are critical, especially when things get hectic. You can be the smartest individual in the plant, but if you can’t communicate well, don’t have good people skills, or are always complaining, it won’t matter how intelligent you are. I’m a huge believer that having a good sense of humor, a selfless desire to help your team, and the confidence to be yourself, ask a million questions, and contribute to a team despite your young age are crucial to being successful, enjoying your work and the people around you.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
Especially early on in college, it can be pretty demoralizing coming from high school where you’re used to getting straight A’s, and then you get absolutely ROCKED by that first or second calculus exam where you swear the professor never taught you how to do anything that was on that test. Relax; it happens!! Your success both in school and in the work place will depend a lot on your ability to relax, take a deep breath, and keep pushing forward and working hard, even when your mental resolve is tested. Studying and working hard is really important in such a tough undergrad major, especially early on; you definitely want to make sure you get that GPA up early and give yourself a cushion for junior/senior year where classes get harder and you want to focus on finding internships and jobs (and having fun). However, it’s just as important to get out there and have some fun with your buddies. Ohio State gave me a great degree that got me a great job, but it also gave me the best friends a guy could ask for and memories with them that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Finding a work/play balance in college will help you maintain that work/play balance as an adult and will lead to a more enjoyable, successful life in all aspects.

About me: 
Ben Heimbach
B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2017)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Akron, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Applied R&D Engineer:
I support the Global Materials Science function with regards to compound development. Most tires have 15+ components which consist of different compounds which need to have different physical properties to optimize tire performance. I specifically support Medium Radial Truck, Off the Road and Bias Truck tires by aiding in the industrialization of new compounds or adding fine tuning to existing compounds. New compound development is focused on improved tire performance with the newest material technologies while fine tuning compounds can range from improving processing within the plant or bringing the compound back into physical property specifications. I work with eleven tire plants across the globe from Topeka, Kansas, to Americana, Brazil, to Ballabgarh, India, all of which are unique.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Rubber and polymer chemistry are essentially organic chemistry so a good foundation from organic chemistry is needed to understand the mechanisms of chemical reactions within a tire compound. A background with certain materials such as polymers, carbon black, silica, oils, organic molecules with sulfur groups and resins are important for applying rubber technologies. Other important skills include knowledge in applying Rheology, fluid mechanics, mass transfer and reaction kinetics. Knowing how to properly design an experiment is another desired ability as we are constantly looking at formulations to optimize tire performance from our lab indicators. Lastly, besides all of the technical knowledge, a person must be able to communicate their work to be successful. In a technical release, the Materials Engineer will have gate meetings to explain their data and prove that the compound is ready for the plant and eventually ready for customers.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
There are four pieces of advice I can give to students considering studying Chemical Engineering. Get involved in a technical student organizations on campus and or undergraduate research. I joined the Chemical Engineering Car Project Team my freshman year of college where I was able to work on hands-on projects, experience time in leadership roles and experience both the challenges and triumphs of working on a team. I was better suited for my career because of these experiences. Secondly, be in a state of perpetual learning. Build on these classroom subjects as you begin to apply them in a career as learning should not end when college does. Third, attend office hours religiously such that it is impossible to not be on a first name basis with your TAs. If you go to office hours with the goal of understanding the material beyond the homework you will be better prepared to anticipate exam questions and real world applications. Lastly, find that group of friends within your classes. These friends will all share common experiences and they will be there for you, always. Take time for the great memories that you will make with them.

About me: Janee McNeil headshot
Janee McNeil
B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2014)
Newell Brands, Huntersville, NC

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Associate Materials Engineer:
At the moment, I am focusing on identifying and executing cost-saving initiatives for our products. My main focus is on plastics and colorants, so this involves a lot of working with suppliers to identify cost effective materials, organizing and conducting trials, running analytical testing, and sending sample products through our Technical Center for performance testing. Overall, anything having to do with plastics is covered by my team. If you look at the Newell Brands portfolio, that is a pretty big chunk of the products we make here.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Since my team is responsible for supporting the entire corporation, things can get very busy. With a perpetually growing to-do list, being able to prioritize my work so that I can focus on the day’s most essential tasks has helped to keep me on track without feeling overwhelmed. I’ve also found that taking the extra time to dig deeper into understanding the “why’s” for certain technical questions will never hurt. I majored in Chemical Engineering and am now focusing on plastics, so a willingness to learn and practice applying (or even just discussing) newfound knowledge has been essential in making a good impression at work.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Chemical Engineering is tough. One of the greatest things about putting yourself up to such an incredible challenge, though, is knowing that if you can overcome such a difficult feat, you can do just about anything. I have friends that have gone into Process Engineering, Technical Service Engineering, Consulting, Quality Engineering, and several other different types of roles. Make it through this and the world will be your oyster – so long as you don’t lose that strong work ethic. And also, do not be afraid to go to office hours! The Chemical Engineering faculty is very supportive, understanding, and knowledgeable. Definitely use that resource while you have it!

About me: Kyle McLaughlin photo
Kyle McLaughlin
B.S. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (May 2015)
Capital One, Washington D.C.

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Senior Business Analyst:
I have the privilege of working on the Capital One Consumer Bank team that oversees development, logistics, and relationship management for our Capital One Cafes - a new banking experience where consumers can recharge their bank accounts, devices and lives while learning new ways to manage their finances, try out new digital and financial tools, and grab a great cup of coffee.  

Industries are being disrupted by bold technologies and banking is no exception. Customers want a swift, convenient banking experience, and sometimes, they want a personal connection, too. We believe people’s money should always fuel their purpose and our Cafés are a place where consumers can talk to friendly, savvy Ambassadors about reaching their financial goals, managing their everyday money, and plenty more.  Much of my role is participating in the launch of new products and features related to our Café model, while helping maintain business systems and serving in a project and process management role – all grounded in ensuring our Cafes provide an experience that allows customers to more seamlessly manage their finances and bank on their own terms.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
At Capital One, people are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we aim to keep the banking experience simple and straightforward—whether you're mobile, online, at the ATM or in one of our Capital One Cafés where our approach to banking really comes to life. That means success in my role truly starts from an understanding of our customer’s challenges and helping devise solutions that are rooted in their behaviors, needs and desires.

Organizationally, it’s important to network and collaborate within the broader company to understand where synergies may exist with other lines of business and working groups. Computer programming, effective communication, and delivering presentations are also critical attributes required to be a successful Business Analyst.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
Every role and every company has its pros and cons. I encourage everyone to focus on tackling new challenges to learn what they like and what they don’t like. As long as you continue to work hard and commit to never stop learning, then you will live a happier life, and more fulfilled and successful career by any metric.

About me:
Mike Mospens
B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2014)
Lubrizol, Louisville, KY

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Area Leader:
I'm a personnel manager and technical resource for a processing department at a specialty manufacturing facility. I have 19 direct reports: chemical operators, shift supervisors, an area specialist, and a logistics coordinator. I spend a lot of time solving process problems in which I use my technical background, but more of my time and energy is spent coaching, sponsoring, and developing my team. Since my work as a process engineer, I use influence as opposed to intelligence to solve the problems I face.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Communication is a crucial skill in successful leadership. Making sure that there is a clear vision for success and an indisputable case for change and progress is the most important foundation for facilitating teamwork.

A strong background in technical understanding is key as well. Credibility is often based upon technical knowledge in new interactions.

Openness to ideas can be the difference between success and failure. Very seldom is one person able to achieve the same success as a group. Perspectives from several functions within an organization or group are needed in order to get to the root cause of problems and solve them permanently.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
Do not take the schoolwork lightly, but also understand that your formal schooling is only a piece of the foundation that will be built under your career. Most of your learning will take place in the moment, under some pressure, and through many failures. Recognize moments of high potential, capitalize on them, and remember what you learn to take it with you everywhere you go

About me:
Mitchell Steindler
B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2017)
Owens Corning, Granville, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Associate Engineer:
I should start by saying that I do research at the Owens Corning (OC) Science and Technology Center in Granville, OH. OC is primarily a fiberglass company, focusing on roofing, insulation, and composites. Therefore, there are three main r&d groups that support those businesses. I reside outside of those groups, inside the Front End of Innovation group (FEI). As a group, our goal is primarily to utilize all of the capabilities of the company to come up with new applications of glass technology. And since we sit outside of the three main groups, we are not held back by the technical constraints of any one group. If a technology from one group doesn't work, we can quickly pivot to another group. Ultimately, if there's nothing inside OC that fits our needs, we can start from zero. Therefore, you should read "Associate Engineer" more as "employee who plays with high risk high reward problems in a statistically rigorous way". Overall, my role as an Associate Engineer is to leverage the diverse set of knowledge and connections within my group, create my own connections, and use my prior knowledge and problem solving skills to help me solve brand new problems. Solving those problems involves communication, experimentation, research, and brainstorming.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
As you can tell, working in FEI is a unique position. It is not your typical role in a plant, or even in R&D. The problem you are trying to solve is often unclear, or nonexistent (just creating an entirely new idea). In my specific experience, the customer often doesn't know what they want. So the first skill that has been valuable is defining project scope: what are the technical objectives? This requires having some knowledge of your target industry, which is why communicating with more experienced researchers is so important as a young engineer. Defining scope is important because it gives constraints, and constraints make it easier to solve problems (no slip boundary condition anyone?). Scope also sets expectations though, so be wary. As I hinted at earlier, leveraging connections has been huge. There is so much out there to know, so don't waste your time google searching, just go talk to people who might know. Lastly, experimental design is crucial. By nature, problems in FEI are quite broad in scope, therefore the number of variables and conditions can be huge. It's important to set up statistically valid experiments to avoid wasting time collecting extraneous data (you would use JMP for this at Ohio State).

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
It's a weird position for me to give advice: the truth is that I was not the best student. When it came to homework and exams, I would study for and do them last minute and not do as well as my true capabilities. This is the primary difference between people who succeed in chemical engineering, and those who don't. It's not about how smart you are, because you are all smart. It's about how you prepare each and every day. Therefore, my one piece of advice is that if you want to control your future post grad, prepare each and every day to make sure you can. (Bonus advice: take modeling and simulation and experimental design technical electives, they're game changers).

About me: Danny Weckstein headshot
Danny Weckstein
B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2013)
Niagara Bottling, LLC, Gahanna, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Manufacturing Technology Manager:
I am currently the Technology Manager at Niagara Bottling, where my team focuses on manufacturing IT projects. We work with a variety of vendors to develop, implement, and train on new automated systems to support our plants and increase water bottle production throughput. The team travels more than 80% of the time and is constantly learning as we find new technologies that can bring value to our organization.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
In order to succeed on the MIS team, we look for candidates who are open to travel, have a positive can-do attitude, and are effective communicators. The team interacts with all levels of management with a wide variety of backgrounds, which requires our team to be patient and flexible when explaining emerging technologies. Being able to adapt quickly and having a keen interest in continuous improvement and Lean Six Sigma is critical.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
As you search for internships, co-ops, and fulltime roles, be open and say yes to different opportunities. If you follow these five points you'll succeed anywhere you go:
1) Show up - be early, demonstrate you care
2) Work hard
3) Be positive - you are your own brand
4) Communication - learn to read body language and connect with your peers
5) Education - keep learning and developing yourself

About me:
Sally Yi
B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2018)
Honda of America, Mfg., Marysville, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Facilities Engineer:
I manage projects involving maintaining and upgrading the facility. As the project leader, I see the need for wastewater treatment changes, HVAC changes, office/restroom renovations, or other facilities items and award the construction work to contractors. In order to ensure that the factory can produce cars, dependable utilities (power, compressed air, chilled water, etc.) are a must. Wherever changes or upgrades are needed, myself or a colleague would take over the project and make it happen. Day to day, I frequently review engineering drawings, lead construction coordination meetings, give presentations, and more.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
My job is all about project, budget, and construction management but I had little experience with these things prior to starting my role. What really matters is having a willingness to learn and always keeping a great attitude. Since I have to coordinate with contractors and Honda personnel so much, having interpersonal skills is a must. A mechanical aptitude and familiarity with piping, thermodynamics, and processes are also crucial in sizing/selecting new equipment. My group was looking for a mechanical engineer to fill this role, but I was flexible and able to leverage my skills as a chemical engineer to prove myself as a good fit.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
Relax as best you can and try to enjoy the process of becoming an engineer. It took me a while to realize that stressing out about the future is pointless. Keep working hard. You will have those moments thinking, "is this struggle worth it?" and I would say yes because chemical engineers are capable of doing so many different things. I chose to take a job that deviates from traditional chemical engineering because I put so much pressure on myself over the ChemE classwork to the point where I didn't enjoy it anymore. Luckily (for me) there are plenty of opportunities for chemical engineers that don't involve daily application of chemical engineering principles. If you don't know what you want to do but think you might be interested in Chemical Engineering, dont be afraid to ask a current student or graduate for advice.