- Major: Chemical Engineering
- Company: CEMEX
- E-mail: Vmolotok@vols.utk.edu
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
My co-op was with CEMEX, a global building materials company. I worked in their cement manufacturing plant in Knoxville, however, they are also known for their ready-mix concrete. I have performed 2 terms with their process engineering team and have done a variety of projects ranging from creating PFDs for the entire plant to running inspections on major equipment.
I decided to co-op because I wanted to stand out from the average ChemE student while gaining a real-world, hands-on, experience. Knowing that a chemical engineer can have many different careers, I also wanted to see those in action to decide where I would want to go after college. During my first co-op rotation, I assisted my boss in many inspections and profiles of our major equipment. I spent a lot of time observing, taking notes, and asking questions. Once my second term rolled around, my boss felt confident that I had put in the effort and time to learn how to thoroughly complete these inspections and I was able to put everything I had learned to the test by running inspections on my own. This was a great accomplishment for me because I really felt like I was no longer just “the intern,” but I was an actual engineer. I was really able to get that hands-on experience I was looking for. Through this process, I learned a lot about paying attention to detail and being thorough.
Participating in a co-op has prepared me for many things. In the professional aspect, I think my co-op has prepared me most to be a valuable team player. A lot of what I did involve more than just me. I had to work on projects with many different people and I learned what it looks like to be a good and a bad team player. In the academic aspect, although I surprisingly did not use much of my textbook knowledge on the job, I feel like it has given me a greater motivation and drive in school that I did not have before because now I see what it looks like on the other end of that diploma. I have now confirmed with myself that chemical engineering really is my passion and I am able to look forward to the future without any concerns.
To someone on the fence about participating in the program, I would tell them that it was the best decision of my college career. In the past 2 terms, I have earned a substantial amount of money while working with like-minded people and learning about things I would've never even heard about at school. It has been fun, rewarding, and incredibly informational. Not to mention you typically work 8 hour days and then go home to do whatever you would like! I did so many fun things in the evenings and on weekends since I had no homework or exams to study for an entire semester. I now have no worries that I am in the wrong major and look forward to my career! No matter where you go for a co-op you will learn something you can take away.
When I'm not busy with school or work, I enjoy cooking, shopping, and spending as many sunny days at the lake as possible!