Jennifer Curtis's First Job

Jennifer Sinclair Curtis
Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida

My First Job

After my sophomore year in college, I worked as a summer intern in the "Folgers" Group at Procter and Gamble in Cincinnati. I was trained to be an "Official Coffee Taster" and also analyzed the effect of water hardness on the taste of coffee.

Her Career Since Then

Jennifer Sinclair Curtis is Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Florida (UF). Prior to this, she held administrative roles as Department Chair of Chemical Engineering at UF and Associate Dean of Engineering and Department Head of Freshman Engineering at Purdue University. Professor Curtis received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University (1983) and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University (1989).

She has an internationally recognized research program in the development and validation of numerical models for the prediction of particle flow phenomena. She is the co-author of over 100 publications and has given over 160 invited lectures at universities, companies, government laboratories and technical conferences. Professor Curtis is a recipient of a Fulbright Research Scholar Award, a NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, the American Society of Engineering Education's (ASEE) Chemical Engineering Lectureship Award, the Eminent Overseas Lectureship Award by the Institution of Engineers in Australia, the ASEE's Sharon Keillor Award for Women in Engineering, and the AIChE Fluidization Lectureship Award.

She currently serves as Associate Editor of the AIChE Journal and on the Editorial Advisory Board of Powder Technology and Chemical Engineering Education. She has served on the National Academy of Engineering's (NAE) Committee on Engineering Education and has participated in two NAE Frontiers of Research Symposiums (2003 and 2008). Currently, she is a Board member of the National Academies' Chemical Science Roundtable, as well as the Council for Chemical Research and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Advice to Young Chemical Engineers

Give your best to every task--no matter how small. Always do what is required--you can certainly do more--but always do what your boss asks you to do.

What was your very first job? And your first engineering job?


Ed Giugliano's picture

My first job after graduation was grit blasting, degreasing, and painting Sidewinder rocket motor chambers on an automated painting line. McCabe and Smith does not cover painting as a unit operation in their book, and we never had a painting lecture in college, so needless to say I was starting my job from scratch. Common sense and hard work served me well and we turned out some very fine looking missiles despite my lack of formal academic training in this area.

Douglas Clark's picture

Thanks for sharing your first job. I kind of think hearing about peoples' very first job is more interesting than hearing about their first engineering jobs (though that's interesting too). The first money I earned came from a position as substitute church organist for three churches, but my first real all-day and Mon-Fri job came shortly after, as part of the crew at a natural gas company over summer vacation. I think anyone who knows me could imagine the organist job, but not so much the hardhat, boots, and shovel job!

Ed Giugliano's picture

Doug, That actually was my first engineering job. I was a process engineer at the chamber preparation line. We had a distillation column to clean up the degreasing solvent, but that was all the chem eng I did there. The rest was a hodgepodge of manufacturing eng, industrial eng, mechnical eng and just common sense. It was a fun job for a kid right out of school.

Douglas Clark's picture

Oh...oops! Now I see that you said it was your first job after graduation. Well, in any case, it was certainly a particularly interesting first engineering job!

My first job was delivery newspapers in Youngstown Ohio. I created all sorts of interesting methods for collecting people's bills, which was the way it was done back then. Amazing how things have changed.

ehorahan's picture

My very first job was an assistant coach position for my summer swim team - I worked with the group that was 8 years old and younger. I also gave private lessons. It was sometimes difficult to organize 30+ 8 year olds to sit and walk in their correct order for their heats at the swim meets. They sure were cute though! And now I read about them winning races for their high school teams!

May's picture

My very first "job" was as the piano accompanist for some of the folks in the Choir. It also opened up opportunity for me to play piano at folks' weddings. But most of the time, I refuse accepting payments. It was quite fun. As unrelated to Chemical Engineering as those "jobs" can be, it really taught me to really understand and anticipate the needs of my customers/stakeholders, which has served me well even today.