I chose chemical engineering at UMBC because I had known since high school that I wanted to pursue a degree in engineering. I went to a STEM school that exposed us to everything from CADD to architectural design. I thought ChemE would be the right choice because of the breadth of industries in which chemical engineers can be useful and successful. But the reason that I chose UMBC in particular was its size. I loved that the classes were small and the students in the ChemE major were so close. I knew that it would be more meaningful to be part of a class that felt like a family than to attend a large university where you are lost in a crowd.
I am in a field where all aspects of chemical engineering are important. I have sat in on meetings where things like process flow sheets, catalyst activity, rector design, etc. are mentioned and discussed. It is so refreshing to feel like I am at a place where all parts of my CBEE education are helping me in my career. Above everything, though, the most useful thing I can highlight is having the ability to learn. Wherever you end up in your education or career, the learning never stops. Having an open mind to new ideas, processes, and viewpoints is indispensable over the entirety of your career and helps you advance in your field and stay current.
Currently, I work as an Associate Data Analyst in ExxonMobil’s Research and Engineering Department. Even though my job role is statistics and analytics-focused, it is still critical that I understand and use chemical engineering principles in my day-to-day work. For example, when trying to make data-driven models for refineries, it is important to understand the underlying relationships between system variables like temperature, pressure, catalyst activity, etc. so that you can confirm that the statistics accurately model the physical situation.
My advice to future students would be to make connections with those around you. Even if it is a bit intimidating at first, it is so important to join clubs, get to know your peers, and interact with professors. You never know when a connection could lead to a new friend, a research opportunity, or even a job!