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Stories from co-ops

Response improvement

"My main project during my term at Ascend was to update one of my plant’s response databases. Each week I interfaced with employees from each area of the facility, which was a great way to get out into the plant and see the process. I enjoyed getting some time away from my desk, so this project was a great experience. This made me a better engineer."
– Sarah Fox, environmental engineering co-op, Clemson University class of 2016

Production tracking

"In nylon manufacturing, the focus is always on improvement and optimization. One of the most common, driving questions is 'How can we make this better?' Co-ops in my role gain experience with commonly-used industry software in tracking total production and learn how every part of a manufacturing process, even something as simple as a convey pipeline, can affect the overall quality of a final product. Ascend’s co-op program helped me in ways that I never realized it would. Being exposed to the challenges of a real-world industry setting while still learning the ideal, technical side of chemical engineering has helped me bridge a gap between college and career."
– Trevor Whitehurst, chemical engineer co-op, Auburn University class of 2016

Increasing yield

"I improved the stability of a process by correcting the vapor-liquid equilibrium calculation for the strippers. I did a tank inventory of the area and helped to improve the goods in process calculation, which in turn improved the yield calculation. In addition, I identified key performance indicators for the yield. After editing and running several models, I proved that lowering the temperature in several storage tanks would recover additional product from waste streams and save on steam costs."
– Brittany Clendening, chemical engineer co-op, University of Florida class of 2016

Systems design

"My projects included planning for turn-around temporary power, designing electrical systems for various loads and creating preventive maintenance plans for electrical equipment. These projects provide a pathway to learn about the industry standards and valuable knowledge about the existing technology."
– Mohamed Nakibul Hassan, electrical engineering co-op, University of Florida class of 2016

Data analysis

"As a maintenance and reliability engineering co-op, one of my projects involved further developing a reliability data analysis system used to prioritize maintenance activity for the industrial fibers division. Completing the project involved multiple tours of the facility and shop visits to become familiar with the equipment and processes in the operating areas. I got to interact with personnel in the operating units, which helped me to improve my communication skills as an engineer. My work has helped to make maintenance activity more efficient."
– Ethan Liu, mechanical engineering co-op, University of Texas class of 2016

Manufacturing cost savings

"I redesigned the piping of a system in order to save product. I worked with pump and valve vendors along with maintenance teams to complete the construction and learned how to run a well managed project. Ascend implemented the new design, and it saves the company about $100,000 per year."
– William Brazell, mechanical engineering co-op, Auburn University class of 2016

Equipment design

"During my time working with the project group, I was involved in initiatives ranging from $250,000 all the way to $2.1 million. I helped decide on equipment arrangements, piping and instrument design and scope of the work to be completed. I also was heavily involved in working with engineering contractors to design mechanical bid packages and checking to make sure designs were in compliance with safety standards. Participating in the co-op program truly made me a better engineer by giving me the tools to succeed in the work environment as well as engineering skills to take back to school with me."
– Caleb Wozniak, mechanical engineering co-op, Auburn University class of 2016

Owning process

"One of my projects was to be the 'owner' of a section of a process. I had to watch daily trends to ensure the unit was running smoothly, and if there was an upset I had to troubleshoot to determine the cause. I also got to become the 'expert' on this section and create a folder that contains everything an engineer would need to know about it so they could run it in the future: a process description, troubleshooting tips, P&IDs and more."
– Kayla Davis, chemical engineer co-op, University of Florida class of 2016