Category Archives: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Summer Internship at General Mills

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 30 August 2018

When I imagined my summer internship, I envisioned a chemical plant complete with reactors and distillation columns. I expected pipe flow fluid dynamics or polymerization reactions. What I got was so much better. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at the General Mills Totino’s Pizza Roll and Party Pizza plant in Wellston, OH.

When I arrived at Wellston, I was given two projects. The first was to optimize glue usage across our pizza roll packaging systems. This required working with our glue supplier to perform an audit, finding out optimal glue usage settings, and then working with the maintenance team to make the adjustments. My favorite part of the project was learning about the packing machines from the operators. It was so much fun getting to know the operators and working with them while also learning about the process from the people who know it best.

My second project was to reduce cheese scrap on our pizza roll filling system. This project was a challenge for me, which meant it was a significant growing opportunity. It took me out of my comfort zone by requiring me to be assertive to accomplish the project goals. Although stressful and uncomfortable at times, I learned valuable lessons about communication and confidence in an engineering role.

At the end of the internship, all of the interns across the General Mills plants met at headquarters in Minneapolis to better understand the company, learn about each other’s experiences, and present our projects.

Minneapolis

Our first day in Minneapolis, we had a photo scavenger hunt competition. Despite my lack of skill with a selfie stick, my team won most creative photo. While different than I imagined, my internship with General Mills was a tremendous growing opportunity that I’m sure will help me on my first job as an engineer.

Summer Co-op at ABB

Melissa Kuchta

Melissa Kuchta,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 27 August 2018

This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to work for a fantastic company called ABB Inc. this summer, right in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I worked as a systems engineering co-op and got to work closely on a variety of different projects with other systems engineers.

ABB is a worldwide industrial automation and power-generation company. As you can imagine, this is a very broad scope, and they work with a variety of different clients. For my co-op specifically, I worked on implementing control systems (which include human-machine interface graphics, control modules, simulators, etc) for two power plants and a wastewater treatment plant. A lot of the engineers I worked with studied electrical engineering, but there were many ties to chemical engineering when it came to how the different plants
operated.

This co-op was so perfect for me, as I went in “Undecided Engineering” my freshman year of college. As I learned about the different disciplines of engineering during my first semester in Athens, I was torn between electrical and chemical engineering. Although I ultimately chose chemical engineering as the major I would pursue, electrical engineering was still so intriguing. Working as a systems co-op at ABB allowed me to find ties between chemical and electrical engineering, allowing for a very enjoyable experience where I learned and grew immensely. As this was my first co-op experience, I feel confident now that I made the right decision in choosing my major and hope to continue my career with ABB someday.

Next summer, I will be working at ABB once again as a Proposals Engineering Co-op. I am excited to explore different aspects of the company and see what the future holds!

In Athens for the Summer

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 29 April 2018

This summer I am interning at General Mills in Wellston, OH. An added bonus to an already amazing opportunity is that I get to stay in Athens for the summer. Although I have lived in Athens for six semesters, there is still so much of the town and surrounding areas I have to explore.

My first two years, I was mostly limited by how far I was willing to walk on foot (not far). Even now that I have a car on campus I still don’t venture too far, mostly sticking to the necessities: Walmart, campus and the Athena Grand.

I’m excited for all the places I’ll go without homework looming over me. I definitely want to make it a priority to go to Hocking Hills State Park to check out Old Man’s Cave and Cantwell Cliffs. After seeing some photos via Google, I definitely want to see the caves, waterfalls and hemlock trees for myself.

In addition, I’m looking forward to running on the bike paths in the evenings after my internship. The path follows the Hocking River quite a ways and offers some pretty breathtaking views. I enjoy seeing the foliage in the fall, so I can’t wait to see how vibrant the greens are in the summer.

It will be interesting to see how the town atmosphere changes when most of the students are gone for the summer. I can’t imagine campus without the hustle and bustle of students milling about in-between classes. This summer is certainly going to be a new experience and I am very excited to enjoy Athens and gain engineering experience.

Spring Break Trip to Slovenia

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 21 March 2018

In early January, my Spring break plans were the same as every year preceding: I was going home to see my cat. By the third week of the semester, I had a plane ticket to go on a cultural exchange to Ljubljana, Slovenia (the first j is silent and the second j reads like a y).

Slovenia

I’m not sure if it was the beautiful architecture, the fresh, flaky croissants or the unbelievably blue Adriatic Sea, but in just one week I fell whole-heartedly in love with Slovenia.

There were students from both Cru at OU and RealLife at OSU on the cultural exchange. We partnered with an organization called Speak Out Slovenia, which works with high school students to practice English speaking through meaningful, relevant conversation with Americans. A lot of our time was spent in classrooms, giving a short presentation and quiz about school in the US, answering any questions, and learning about Slovene culture.

The quiz tested the Slovene high school students’ knowledge of American high school jargon like senioritis, dance chaperone and senior superlative. The Slovene students taught us (the Americans) about their college entrance exam, the Matura, and flaunted that detention does not exist in Slovenia, among many other things.

During that week, we (the Americans) were divided into groups and met at three different high schools. The school I went to was called Gimnazija Šentvid. One of the major differences between American and Slovene high schools is when it comes to sports. Unlike in America, Slovene sports clubs are not affiliated with a high school or district. However, there are schools like Gimnazija Šentvid that offer classes for student athletes where they can train and condition during their school day.

Another big difference is that in Slovene high school a student stays with the same group of people throughout their day class to class with few exceptions except during senior year. This is very different from how American high schools operate where we have our own individualized schedules.

In addition to speaking with English class students in the schools, we also had after-school activities. On Wednesday, all the teachers in Ljubljana went on strike, so we took a day trip with at least thirty Slovene students to Piran, a coast town on the Adriatic Sea. We were split into groups with both Slovenes and Americans and sent on a photo scavenger hunt to see all the sights the lovely town had to offer.

Slovenia

Piran was my personal favorite. Looking out across the sea, in one direction I saw Italy and in the other Croatia. We climbed to the highest point in the town, where we could look out at the point and snap a picture of the terracotta rooftops and breathtaking horizon.

Our last day in Slovenia was spent at Lake Bled. The lake was nestled majestically in the frosted mountains. From a castle that loomed over the lake to the small island church located in the middle of the lake, it was like something out of a fairy tale.

Slovenia

We hiked higher and higher to take the best pictures and to try to capture the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Lake Bled was also a prized destination thanks to its authentic dessert shop that supposedly has the best kremsnita (cream cake) in Slovenia.

Slovenia

Overall, there was a lot to love about Slovenia. I hope I have the opportunity to go back and visit this beautiful country and the friends I made through Speak Out. This trip had a tremendous impact on me through immersive learning about another culture. Even though it was a break from class, it definitely was not a break from learning. However, when you are gazing across the Adriatic or enjoying a delectable croissant, it’s not so bad.

Chemical Eng. Capstone Class: Unit Operations

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 7 March 2018

In my final semester of Chemical Engineering coursework, it truly feels like everything is starting to come together—it’s almost as if the curriculum were set up that way! The first three years of classes were largely more about theory and concepts, learning about things through lecture and small hands-on projects. However, in my senior year—and this semester, especially—the classes are much different.

One such class that is different than any prior is a class called Unit Operations, and it essentially acts as the Chemical Engineering “Capstone” course. In this class, two fellow seniors and I work in a group on 5 projects over the course of the semester. While only 5 projects may not seem like much, trust me and my classmates when I say it is!

All kidding aside, the projects are really not too bad as long as you have good group chemistry and solid time management. For lifelong procrastinators like myself, the time management part has proven a little difficult, but then again, that is kind of the point in the class: to prepare graduating seniors for the real-world.

In this class, we have one week to write a pre-lab report on the project we will be conducting. A few of the projects are running a distillation column, using a fluidized bed to dry cracked corn, and using a filter press to remove limestone from water.

As students, we are responsible for putting forth the engineering theory involved and making predictions of results as well as physically (and safely!) conducting the experiment in two 5-hour lab sessions. At the end, results are analyzed and submitted in a second, post-lab report, and the process begins again with the next project.

While this class may seem from the outside like a burden or overwhelming, I have to admit I do enjoy it. I find it very interesting to be able to apply the multitude of things gained in the classroom over the past 3.5 years to a real-life setting. Seeing theory put into practice is one of the most exciting aspects of Chemical Engineering and engineering in general—especially when those theories hold up in actual experiments!

Advanced Materials with Dr. Marc Singer

Daniel Riordan

Daniel Riordan,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 26 February 2018

When you’re talking with someone about a topic you’re both excited about—whether it’s how the Cleveland Cav’s roster has been shaken up with all the trades going on, or what’s going to happen next in the new season of Westworld—you need both a good degree of background knowledge to be able to chat about the finer details.

The same goes for one of my favorite topics I get to study in chemical engineering at OU: materials. Now that I am a senior and have learned a lot of the basics about materials and how they work, I’m able to enroll in a course offered at Ohio University that covers all the fun and interesting topics in materials science in a more conversational, casual setting. It’s called Advanced Topics in Materials Science and Engineering, taught by metallic corrosion researcher Dr. Marc Singer, and the format is way more casual than a typical engineering course. I mean, look at him.

Dr. Marc Singer

This is a man who knows his stuff about materials and knows how to keep it fresh. We cover topics such as the electrical, thermal, and optical properties of materials at a fast pace, but because the exams are low-stress and the topics are interesting, it’s easy for me to relax and just enjoy it.

We’re talking about n- and p-type semiconductors now and why they’re so important in modern-day computing applications, and it’s been cool to learn from the experts how and why the things around us are made of the materials they’re made of.

Chemical Engineering Academics

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 18 February 2018

I’ve heard it said that sophomore year second semester of chemical engineering is the hardest semester. I’ve also heard it said that junior year first semester is the hardest semester. Okay, it’s second semester junior year that is the hardest, and so on and so forth. This is because each semester my dad tells me it’s the hardest one.

I think I understand his parenting logic, to get me to be ever vigilant in my studies and take every class seriously. I remember being annoyed during my sophomore year, but now I appreciate what he said to me. He got me in the mindset to tackle each semester one at a time, not dwelling on past semesters, or worrying about future ones.

However, this semester might actually be the hardest semester in chemical engineering, at least for me. That being said, I have never been more excited about engineering than I am right now. While I enjoyed my calculus and chemistry courses over the past two years, my true passion lies in my engineering classes this semester.

My chemical reaction engineering class takes me inside a reactor where molecular bonds are breaking and reforming. I am learning the intricacies of sizing and choosing what type of reactor will best fit my future company’s needs. In my advanced materials course, I can delve deeper into what makes steel so tough and how to choose the optimal characteristics of a material.

Overall, my classes this semester are some of the most engaging I’ve had during my time here at OU. I am beginning to scratch the surface of what my future career could be like, and I am thrilled about that. I am solving problems that, though textbook, have real engineering applications and challenge me to be creative and apply what I know. These classes are tough. None of them are easy, but I’ve heard junior year second semester is the hardest semester and I only have a few more to go.