Spotlight

In part two of our Spotlight Series on our Summer Intern Program, we feature our next set of interns and future process intensification leaders. 

Emily Schramek

  • Junior/undergraduate, Auburn University
  • Project: Modular Catalytic Desulfurization Units for Sour Gas Sweetening
  • Focus Area: Module Manufacturing
  • Work Tasks: Assists with experimental studies to expand the operational range of SourCat technology and with the scale up of catalyst production.
  • Career Aspirations: I don’t have very specific career aspirations, but I realized I love the idea of industry and working on large scale operations. I would also love to go into the business side of things and eventually get my MBA. I think chemical companies should be led by people who truly understand the science behind their products and how they’re made in order to make the company the best it can be.

What intrigued you most about joining the RAPID Summer Intern Program?

I had never heard of RAPID before I was offered my Co-Op at IntraMicron. Before I started, my advisor asked me if I would be interested in joining the intern program which she believed it would be a great opportunity since the projects I would be working on would be RAPID projects. After fully understanding what I was about to sign up for, I thought it would be a great way for me as a young chemical engineer with little to no experience to learn from and connect with other more experienced engineers throughout the country.

Now that you are at the midpoint, what skills have you obtained or refined that you consider of value and what are you still looking forward to?

I have been introduced and completely immersed in process intensification in the 6 weeks I have been working at my Co-Op and learning through the internship. Between my hands-on experience at IntraMicron and the lectures through RAPID, I am confident I could explain process intensification to my peers in the fall.

How have your impressions about Process Intensification grown/shifted?

I originally thought chemical engineering was all about making processes faster and more efficient. However, once I was introduced to process intensification, I was almost shocked that all chemical processes were not using this idea. Now, I am going to take what I have learned from this experience and carry it with me into all my projects in the future because I believe it is extremely beneficial.

What do you hope to accomplish at the end of the intern program?

By the end of the summer, I hope to be confident enough to discuss process intensification in my classes in the fall and help incorporate the idea into Auburn’s chemical engineering curriculum. I also hope to stay connected with the other students learning through this program and hopefully work together again in the future.

What do you like best about RAPID’s Intern Program?

I like how casual, yet very beneficial the program is. I have learned so much from a simple one-hour webinar a week watched at my own leisure. I love how I get to discuss my projects with people around the United States and take comfort that things don’t always go as planned in research and it’s not just me.

Jacques Arnoult

  • Undergraduate Student, Iowa State University
  • Project: Autothermal Pyrolysis of Lignocellulosic Wastes to Sugars and other Biobased Products
  • Focus Area: Renewable Bioproducts
  • Work Tasks: Assists with preliminary design of modules associated with the pyrolysis-based modular energy processing system being developed by Easy Energy Systems. He will also assist with operation of the pilot plant at ISU.
  • Career Aspirations: I hope to work in industry, for a sustainability focused company to gain more experience, both technical and non-technical. Then, sometime in the future after gaining industry experience, I want to move back to Maui, Hawaii and start an aquaponic greenhouse that is automated, and used to produce fruit, vegetables, and herbs locally and to teach the next generations about the importance of processes, aquaponics and agriculture.

What intrigued you most about joining the RAPID Summer Intern Program?

I have always been intrigued by sustainability and biorenewables.  I was also looking for an internship which made RAPID’s Intern Program an excellent fit for me. I was wary of it at first, since I did not have a lot of experience in chemical engineering, but that has not been a barrier as both the program and my mentor, have taught me all that I need to know.

Now that you are at the midpoint, what skills have you obtained or refined that you consider of value and what are you still looking forward to?

For technical skills, I feel that my automation and controls knowledge has increased significantly, which is important in understanding how data from processes is measured, transmitted, and sorted into useful information, to be used later for optimization. For non-technical skills, I have started to refine my writing for upper management with reports and resumes. These are especially important for communicating effectively with any person or company. I look forward to learning about gaining trust to become a successful leader.  I also look forward to learning more about the process of Reactive Distillation.

How have your impressions about Process Intensification grown/shifted?

Initially, I did not have any impressions of Process Intensification. However, the idea of making things smaller and more efficient was impressed upon me before I joined this program. Thus, my impressions have grown significantly. I now see how valuable PI is and why we should be implementing the idea into many other engineering fields, since PI reduces size, costs, and risks.

What do you hope to accomplish at the end of the intern program?

My first goal is to gain invaluable connections with and through my mentor, fellow interns, and RAPID members. Secondly, I hope to successfully optimize a sulfuric acid pretreatment system for corn stover to be used in an Autothermal Pyrolysis process which I hope will enable me to have a better understanding of how the Autothermal Pyrolysis process works.

What do you like best about RAPID’s Intern Program?

As a mechanical engineer, I am being immersed into so many new and different areas through this program. What I appreciate most is the wealth of knowledge, both technical and non-technical, that RAPID’s program has provided me with. As a result, I am absorbing all of that knowledge and applying it almost immediately to the project at hand.

Lucas Freiberg

  • PhD Student, Oregon State University
  • Project: Manufacturing Supply Chain Development for the STARS Technology Modular Solar-Thermochemical Conversion Platform
  • Focus Area: Module Manufacturing
  • Work Tasks: Engaged in researching novel approaches to Chemical Manufacturing Process Intensification, and Process Modularization through the development of microscale-based technological components (reactors and separation operations). Also carries out design and fabrication of hardware to CapEx/OpEx.  Aside from training/education, duties will also include the development of the mathematical model and numerical simulation, characterization of the microscale-based PI technology, data collection, and balance of plant analysis.
  • Career Aspirations: I aspire to be a professor at a research university but I plan to keep an open mind regarding other opportunities. 

What intrigued you most about joining the RAPID Summer Intern Program?

I was intrigued about joining the RAPID Intern Program because I want to make a positive difference in the world! Clean, modularized chemical processes are our future. Thus, we need scientists and engineers who understand the value of process intensification to engage businesses and the public with these ideas.

Now that you are at the midpoint, what skills have you obtained or refined that you consider of value and what are you still looking forward to?

I have gained a wider understanding of the history, and current status of process intensification efforts in industry and academia. I hope this big picture understanding will help me to advance upon what’s state-of-the-art in the future.

How have your impressions about Process Intensification grown/shifted?

Without knowing, my design of a novel solar reactor assimilated two of the four major process intensification areas!  To promote human wellbeing and a sustainable relationship between humanity and our planet, I believe that it is vitally important to promote process intensification, which strives to develop cleaner, safer processes.

What do you hope to accomplish at the end of the intern program?

At the end of the internship program, I hope to have the ability to articulate the basic principles and benefits of process intensification to family and friends.  

What do you like best about RAPID’s Intern Program?

Our Internship coordinator, Ashley, has been very helpful in keeping our weekly group meetings – which are entirely web-based – organized, timely and insightful.