ChBE Undergrads Win 5 of 29 Prestigious Industrial Internships

Five of the Clark School's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) undergraduates have earned summer internships at top companies through a program offered by the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), the America International Group (AIG), the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Karen Dunford, Yelena Leznik, Justin Owens, Meron Tesfaye and Majid Waheed were selected from a nationwide field of "exceptional sophomores and juniors" majoring in chemistry and chemical engineering to receive five of the twenty-nine positions offered by the SCI Scholars program. SCI Scholars receive $6000–$10,000 for a ten-week industrial internship and $1000 in discretionary funding.

Dunford, a junior, will be heading to DuPont's Chambers Work Site in Deepwater, N.J. She applied to the SCI Scholars program because she wanted industrial experience. "[I] would like to see…what a Chemical Engineer can do outside of academia," she says. "I hope to have a better understanding of the job I would like [to have] after graduation." Dunford's prior research experience includes a summer in Associate Professor Srinivasa Raghavan's group, where she studied vesicles, photo-acid generators, and gels. Her Gemstone team currently works in Assistant Professor Chunsheng Wang's lab, where they are developing a silicon-graphene composite that could be used in an anode with a long cycle life and high capacity. Dunford says she chose to study at the Clark School because of the many opportunities for undergraduate research, and because the in-state tuition allows her to study abroad in the summer and winter terms.

Leznik, a junior, has been researching careers in engineering since high school, where math and science classes were always her favorites. She chose chemical engineering, she says, because if its flexibility, and because she was inspired by her father, who works as a chemical engineer for W.R. Grace. Leznik will travel to Newark, Del., where she will serve as a manufacturing technology engineer for DuPont. "I wanted to get a traditional internship in industry so I can decide what I like and don't like about chemical engineering, and better shape my future career goals," she explains. The SCI Scholars program gave her the opportunity to explore her options by presenting her strengths and experience to many potential employers with one application. Prior to earning her internship at DuPont, Lesnik worked in ChBE professor and chair Sheryl Ehrman's group, conducting research on functionalizing pH responsive nanoparticles for drug delivery to cancerous tumors.

Owens, a sophomore and self-proclaimed "die-hard Terps fan," will head to Allentown, Pa., where he will work for Air Products' Division of Manufacturing and Operations Engineering. There, he'll be involved in plant operations, including quality assurance, project engineering, and safety compliance. "I will practically be a full time engineer for three months, which is an opportunity I do not think I could find anywhere else," he says. "…hopefully [it will] give me a step up for the future." This will be his second summer in the field: last year, he worked for General Dynamics, Jacobs Engineering, and Science and Technology Corporation in Aberdeen, Md. on a project for the U.S. Army. Owens has always loved math and science, but it was his high school AP chemistry class that inspired him to become a chemical and biomolecular engineer. While at the moment he's planning on a career in industry, Owens hopes to find a research mentor on campus, and would like to continue his education at the graduate level in the future.

Tesfaye, a junior, will travel to the Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tenn., where she will be working in either manufacturing or process control. Before becoming an SCI Scholar, she completed two Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs, one on biofuels at National Renewable Energy and one on titanium photovoltaic cells at Washington University. Tesfaye decided to become a chemical and biomolecular engineer because it would prepare her to pursue many different career opportunities. She enjoys the challenge and breadth of knowledge her studies have provided. She transferred to the Clark School to complete her degree because she felt that it offered her excellent career, research, and leadership opportunities, and because its location makes it an "ideal" and diverse place to live and work. After earning her B.S., Tesfaye is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in environmental engineering. Ultimately, she says, "I would like to do environmental work, especially in remote and underdeveloped countries like my home country, Ethiopia."

Waheed, a junior, will spend his summer working for DuPont's research and development division in Newark, Del. His prior research experience includes a summer internship at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C, where he studied flame extinguishing systems. He applied to be a SCI Scholar because he felt the program offered the most targeted internship opportunities. "I knew I would be placed in a position that was meant for a chemical engineer rather than a general engineer," he says, "and as such would be able to most effectively utilize what I have been taught in [my] classes." Waheed chose to become a chemical and biomolecular engineer because of the many career paths it offers, including energy, process design and even medicine. He chose to study at the Clark School for its "strong reputation and value." After graduating, he plans to work for a few years before attending graduate school, either for a master's degree, Ph.D., or M.B.A.

ChBE and the Clark School extend their congratulations to all of these excellent young engineers.

Learn more about the SCI Scholars program »

Published April 10, 2012