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Manufacturing Student Spotlight

Maria Pritchett is a 4th year chemical engineering student at Case Western Reserve University. Learn more about Maria and her experience as a manufacturing engineering student below!
Manufacturing Student Spotlight - manufacturing

When did you first hear about manufacturing engineering? Were you introduced to it in school? And by whom? A teacher? A parent?

I first heard about engineering from programs my school offered. Unfortunately, I did not take advantage of these programs when I was in grade school, but after I fell in love with chemistry and math, I knew I needed to check it out for college. I ended up hearing about manufacturing engineering in my first chemical engineering class in college, and from there it seemed really cool.

You have had co-op experience in manufacturing, can you tell us about it? What is a co-op?

This past summer I did my 3rd co-op for The Lubrizol Corporation in Deer Park, Texas. This was a manufacturing engineering term where I got to work on several projects for my unit (the process I worked on), including designing a new filtration system that was a part of a larger group of projects aimed at fixing quality problems. I also got to do a project scoping out locations in our process where adding certain isolation valves made the system safer in the case of process emergencies. 

For your Co-op experience, what jobs did you perform?

On a daily basis I took part in walk-throughs of the unit to scout out anything that looked out of place. For example, on several occasions I found a valve handle had fallen off, or a wire that grounded the process (to stop fires starting from static electricity) out of place and needing to be reconnected. I also got to take part in daily and weekly troubleshooting meetings for the unit, and my inputs were always taken into consideration.

What part of the co-op experience did you like best?

The unit that I worked in was having a quality issue with one of its products, there were weekly discussions about this concern. One of my projects was meant to help fix the problem as well. I got to be involved in these meetings and give my opinion for what I thought we could do to fix the problem. I really liked the problem-solving aspect and bouncing ideas off of other people.

Would you recommend the co-op experience for anyone interested in engineering?

I would highly recommend the co-op experience. I had real responsibilities during my co-op, and the engineers I worked with valued my opinions. My co-ops have also lasted longer than internships, so I was able to contribute more.

Now that you have had this experience, do you think you will pursue a job in manufacturing possibly as a manufacturing engineer?

I think it is very likely that I will have a job as a manufacturing engineer at some point, if not right after I graduate.

Did you participate in any clubs, groups or organizations in primary school that helped you decide on majoring in engineering? What clubs/groups did you participate in?

I participated in the math Olympiad in elementary school as well as a tech certifications, game design, and computer science class in high school. I wish I had done more but all these all got me excited about problem solving.

What advice do you have for our readers who may want to become engineers one day?

Don’t let what other people think you can do stop you. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. You know yourself better than anyone, go out there and seize every opportunity!


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