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Day in The Life of a Chemical Engineer: Maribel

Day in The Life of a Chemical Engineer: Maribel -

Maribel is a Materials Process and Physics Engineer at Boeing. Learn more about her work in specialty materials and how you can #BeThatEngineer!

Day in The Life of a Chemical Engineer: Maribel -
Maribel Locsin

Like most people, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I tried my best in school but was only an average student and played a variety of sports. It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized the influences all around me that shaped my interests and made me who I am today. My father was a precision machinist. He was constantly building, fixing, and assembling anything and everything, including unique mechanical toys for me to play with. Before the age of 10, I was helping my dad smooth heavy pumps, blowtorch acrylic parts, and fix our car. (Maybe not the safest for a young child, but it was fun). These childhood experiences are what inspired me to pursue engineering — to work with my hands and build things out of nothing.

In high school, I really enjoyed chemistry. Not many people say this, but chemistry just made sense to me. When applying to college, my mother suggested I apply for engineering based on my skill set and academic achievements. With the combination of my fascination for chemistry and the baseline of engineering, I decided to pursue a major and career in Chemical Engineering. Many people told me Chemical Engineering was the hardest major, but this challenge excited my competitive side and further convinced me that it was the right choice. During a club fair within the first month of my freshman year, I came across the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) booth. Talking to the bright, inspiring women leading the student section that year, I felt I was in the right place and had made the right choice to pursue engineering.

Day in The Life of a Chemical Engineer: Maribel -

I received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from San José State University (SJSU). While there, I was heavily involved in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). I held Region Collegiate positions at SWE, representing Region A at Annual Conferences. With AIChE, I participated in the Chem-E-Car Competition at the regional and annual conferences. I also paddled for the SJSU Concrete Canoe team at the ASCE Mid-Pacific Regional Conference.

My favorite project that I always reflect on is my senior design project. I worked with Genentech engineers to design a Frozen Accelerated Seed Train for Execution of a Campaign (FASTEC) process. My team designed and developed a new bioprocess system for the beginning of the cell-making process in a bioreactor. This was my first peek into the chemical engineering design world. I had to use standard chemical engineering concepts that I had recently learned in school to design this process. It was definitely challenging to lead the team through this project, but it was extremely rewarding when it was complete.

Day in The Life of a Chemical Engineer: Maribel -

While at SJSU, I also completed two internships. First, I was a Mechanical Design Support Engineer at Salas O’Brien in San Jose, CA during my junior year. My second internship was in the Project Services group at Genentech in South San Francisco, CA during my senior year. Both internships gave me great perspective on the expectations of the real-world industry. They taught me how to manage projects, communicate with contractors, and efficiently benchmark data for future project projections.

I am currently a Materials, Process, and Physics Engineer at The Boeing Company. Having now worked in the industry for six years, this past winter I also received my Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. I am in the Specialty Materials Integration Group nestled under Boeing Research and Technology. We perform research and development of new materials and processes. I consider myself a logical thinker rather than creative, but my current projects push the boundary of engineering and physics, forcing me to think more creatively about how to get specific materials to work together. I’m challenged every day to think of unique solutions to new problems and to always think outside of the box. I get to work on exciting technologies that will one day become an aerospace product such as an exterior coating or composite part.

To high school girls interested in engineering, capitalize on what you are good at or what interests you the most. I remember going through the motions of grade school and high school, without paying much attention to what subjects interested me. After speaking to professionals in the industry through SWE, I got a sense of what I wanted to do and what subjects to pursue. Find these mentors early on. They might be parents, aunts or uncles, family friends, or your neighbors. Their experiences are valuable, and mentors can help you focus on the right path. Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing a career in the STEM field.

About the Author

Kristine Loh is a PhD student in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and the “Day in the Life” reporter for the high school SWENext newsletter. She graduated from Drexel University in 2020 with her bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering and her master’s in Materials Science and Engineering. 


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