Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

Hear from our graduates about their journey after college.


Spring 2013: Ben Engelske

College is a truly a challenging and rewarding experience. Greetings, my name is Benjamin Egelske; I am a junior in the chemical engineering (CHE) program at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). UMD is an excellent university that has provided me with opportunities to develop both academically and professionally.  

In September 2012 I became chapter president of the Society of Mining Metallurgy and Exploration (SME). With the help of club members and the regional organization I was able to organize tours to industrial sites as well as bring in professional speakers from the minerals industry. Some events of interest include a tour to Cliffs Hibbing Taconite and industry presentations. Besides SME, I am involved in The Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers (MNSPE), North Shore Climbers Club (NSC) and work as an undergraduate teaching assistant (UGTA). Taking an active role in student organizations is something I would advise for everyone; they allow you to find new hobbies and explore career paths before graduation.

I am currently working for the next 9 months as a co-op at Novaspect INC under the official title of “Control Systems Engineer”. The position is focused around an Emerson software package called Delta V. This software enables any process to be controlled through a computer network. My project is centered on a specialty chemical plant where we are modernizing an older system. My responsibilities include programing logic to handle process operations, designing operator interfaces, troubleshooting networking issues, and configuring field devices. Controls engineering is just one of many fields that a degree in CHE can provide. By taking advantage of everything college has to offer, you will find a career that keeps you satisfied for life.


Fall 2012: Emily Campion


It’s amazing what we can do with our training in chemical Engineering. My name is Emily Campion. Last summer I participated in an internship at Goddard Space Flight Center where I helped develop a Planetary Protection Database. The database stores the results of sample swabs and wipes taken to measure the number of bacteria on planetary spacecraft. I wrote a user manual for the database that was emailed to NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer, the European Space Agency’s Planetary Protection Officer, and the head microbiologist at JPL! For my work I received the Pat Gary Award of Excellence in the Computer Science Category NASA Summer 2012 Poster Session. I also received the John Mather Nobel Scholars Award with a grant to present research anywhere, so I really want to do some good chemical engineering research before I graduate.

During my stay at NASA I had multiple opportunities to expand my knowledge about science, engineering, and space. I discussed the second law of thermodynamics and the formation of galaxies with a Nobel Prize winning astrobiologist, John Mather, and I attended a lecture by an international space station astronaut, Daniel Burbank. At the Goddard Visitor Center, I stood alongside scientists and engineers who worked on the Sample Analysis of Mars instrument as I watched live footage of the JPL control room when Curiosity landed on Mars. Very cool!


Spring 2012: Jake Klym

Hello. My name is Jake Klym. I am a senior Chemical Engineering student at UMD. Last year I worked as an engineering coop student at Cargill in Sidney, OH from January to August. The Sidney plant processes soybeans to oil extraction. The oil is used in a variety of food and chemical products. Within the first couple months my role was to become familiar with each department in the process so I could begin working on improving the efficiency. However, due to management change, I became responsible to manage projects left behind by transferring supervisors.

As an engineering intern, I had the exciting opportunity to take charge of a major drag conveyor repair in which a major crane operation was needed. Both supervisory work and safety measures were needed for the crews/contractors consisting of 3-4 people during the operation. I was also given responsibility for a major feed tank operation in which the way the meal was transferred/ dealt with was changed. This project took approximately 3 months to plan, implement, execute, and complete. During the installation phase, I led a 4-man crew everyday making sure permits were signed and installation remained on pace all while reporting to management how the installation was coming along.

Lastly, during the plant shutdown I managed various installations and repairs within the extraction/ cooling process including new valves, sand and hydro-blasting shell and tube heat exchangers, and installed a chemical system for a water cooling tower system. I never imagined that I would gain so much experience as a student. UMD Chemical Engineering prepared me for success now and in the future.


Winter 2011: Gibran Hashmi


Hey everybody! My name is Gibran Hashmi and I am currently in my fourth year of Chemical Engineering. Chemical Engineering at UMD has been more than just a rewarding experience for me. Here I have had the chance not only to enroll in one of the best undergraduate chemical engineering programs in the nation but at the same time UMD has given me the opportunity to make the most of my college education. A well-rounded college education is highly beneficial and I have experienced that first hand with my internships, research experiences and extra-curricular activities.

I interned this past summer at August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm, MN. The experience taught me a great deal about working in the food industry and the challenges associated with it. At the same time I was able to apply my engineering skills to come up with some creative solutions to their waste water and energy conservation problems. Currently I am working at Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet and contributing my skills in a different industry. Both my internships taught me a great deal and gave me the background that companies often look for when hiring after graduation. Besides industry experience, the Chemical Engineering Department at UMD provided ample opportunities for me to conduct some research during my stay. I took part in two UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program) research projects and one sponsored research project in the Northland Advanced Transportation Research Lab. My research experiences gave me a better understanding of some of the high level concepts of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics that will help me get ready for Graduate School.

Wishing to make a mark outside academics and industry, I also took part in several extra-curricular activities at UMD polishing my leadership and communication skills. This is my second year as president of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society. Last year I was elected Vice President of the International Club at UMD and this year I was elected as treasurer of student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. I have also served as president of the UMD Muslim Students Association. All these experiences added to my well-rounded education at UMD.


Fall 2011: Bethany Klemetsrud


Hey All! My name is Bethany Klemetsrud and this is my last year in the Chemical Engineering program at UMD. Thinking back to my freshmen year it's crazy to see how much I've learned and how I have been able to make the Chemical Engineering Department feel like home. Even though Chemical Engineering isn't the easiest major out there, it has been rewarding to see how Chemical Engineers are able to solve day-to-day problems. This summer I was accepted into the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Washington University in St. Louis and was able to see how chemical engineers use their skills to research solutions to environmental and energy problems. I found that the skills I had acquired over the past three years are useful for solving real problems.

Part of the REU was spent in China and Hong Kong where I was able to see firsthand how Chemical Engineers are working on these problems at a local level and global level. We toured and met with various energy companies in Hong Kong and saw how they are using Chemical Engineering applications to reduce emissions and find cleaner, renewable sources of energy. We were also able to meet with various Chemical Engineering professors in China and Hong Kong and see how the skills they learned as an undergraduate are being used every day in their own research. I encourage you to take the time and see what research opportunities are out there.

I would strongly encourage you to take part in internships, co-ops, or research experiences and avail yourself of the opportunity to learn and exhibit leadership qualities.


Spring 2011: Al Reich


Greetings! I’m Al Reich, and I’m in my fourth year of the chemical engineering program at UMD. The world of chemical engineering is deeply rewarding both at the collegiate and industrial levels.

As a student, I’ve been involved with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (student chapter) and was voted vice president this year. As a part of this organization, I’ve been able to go on tours of local industries ranging from paper mills to breweries and see firsthand the potential fruits of my education. Also, we have started a Chem-E car team to participate in the regional competition and have even more fun with engineering!

From an industrial perspective I did a co-op at the Packaging Corporation of America’s Tomahawk mill where I worked as a process engineer. I was able to directly apply the fundamentals I’ve learned at UMD.This experience showed the importance of the challenging coursework.

Even though the co-op delayed my graduation slightly, it was a great experience, and I strongly urge you to not only embrace the world of chemical engineering, but take the time to get involved in a co-op and see firsthand what chemical engineering truly is about!


Fall 2010: Jonelle Echert


Hello! My name is Jonelle Echert and I am a senior chemical engineering student at UMD. I started the program not really sure of what I was getting myself into, but as the years have passed I am pleased with my choice of major. It requires a lot of effort and good time management, but learning about the various aspects of chemical manufacturing processes is rewarding.

I have been fortunate to experience a few industrial internships as well. These opportunities allowed me to put together the concept of what a chemical engineer actually does by working on real engineering projects and using my new problem solving skills. During my time at UMD, I have completed a 15-month environmental co-op with Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet, MN and a summer internship at Charter Films, Inc. in Superior WI. Both of these opportunities have been challenging but extremely fulfilling. I would highly encourage students to seek out an internship or co-op during their school career. You may not graduate in four years, but the experience is well worth it.


Summer 2010: Rory Brecke


Hello, my name is Rory Brecke. I am a senior in Chemical Engineering at UMD. At the end of November 2009 I began a project with Dr. Michael Rother and Carol Horabik for Murphy Oil, Inc. My project involved the design and construction of a 3-D scale model of the Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Hydrotreater (ULSD) at the Superior, WI refinery. The new process will reduce the concentration of sulfur in diesel fuel in order to meet new EPA standards. The project involved 298 hours of labor and $1400 in material cost. The model includes different types of wood, PVC, wire, polyethylene, and various types of glue. This project was an amazing endeavor and learning experience about the unit operations and how they work together. The model is on display at the refinery for visitors

As a chemical engineering student, your workload will be intense. But don’t forget to get outdoors and have some fun!


Spring 2010: Sam Whitney


My name is Sam Whitney. I am a fifth-year senior student-athlete here at UMD. Balancing chemical engineering with football can prove to be a tough task. However, I have a passion for each and was able to find a way to make it happen. I compliment the university’s advising for helping me balance my workload with practices and travel so I could pursue both interests. I also tribute the faculty in our department for helping me gain the knowledge and skills necessary to carry on as a chemical engineer after graduation in May 2010.The university's connection with employers has helped me through tough economic times to land a job with Cargill. One problem I originally had with UMD was the small campus size. This turned into a plus when I discovered that smaller classes mean an increase in access to the professors.

On top of being a member of the National Championship Bulldog football team, I have also taken on some undergraduate research to keep a steady income throughout the summer. The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) allows students to pursue any researchable ideas with guidance from a professor. In addition, the wide variety of minors available at UMD allowed me to improve my technical abilities and pick up an environmental engineering minor. I plan on taking the fundamentals of engineering (FE) exam in the spring, which will allow me to become a professional engineer later on in my career.

I encourage everyone to get involved at the university with enriching activities outside your major. Not only will you have fun but the increase in responsibility will improve your focus and self-discipline in your studies. You will learn some things that just can’t be taught in the classroom.


Fall 2009: Evan Hunter


Hello! My name is Evan Hunter and I am a fourth-year chemical engineering student here at UMD. I am fortunate to have studied abroad at Curtin University in Western Australia. I highly recommend studying abroad. Many students (especially those in engineering) fear that doing so will delay their graduation. However, the staff members here at UMD work to ensure that this does not happen. I enrolled in several chemical engineering and economics classes which will likely work towards my degree.

Although studying abroad can be expensive, scholarships and financial aid are available for those who apply. I received $1,500 through the UMD Study Abroad Scholarship! I have also held two different internships. I worked as a Lab Technician intern with Flint Hills Resources and as an Engineering intern for American Engineering Testing. I learned so much in each of these two internships. Professors tell the truth when they say that studying abroad and working as an intern are rewarding opportunities.