Setting New Expectations

Setting New Expectations
Kaitlin Seay

    A common question that students ask when deciding on a major is, “What can I expect if I pursue a career in this field?” If you are considering engineering as a career, I would say to expect an intense time commitment. In my experience, I have had the opportunity to do something new every day, which means that “learning on the go” is vital to this career. In addition, I would add to expect to NOT understand everything.

    One of the major differences between school and work is that in your job you will be given problems that do not have a clear answer. Instead, you will have to find the best solution; look at all of the options, and consider economic cost, safety, and reliability to solve the problem. The first solution may not be the best one, but start somewhere! Test your ideas and then refine them using the results. Get a team together and utilize their individual skills and abilities to reach a common goal, as everyone plays a role in a project. Even the smallest task makes an impact in the grand scheme of a project.

    I would encourage all young women who have an interest in science and math to consider a career in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field. With a STEM degree you will learn vital skills needed in today’s workplace: problem solving, critical and analytical thinking, and the ability to work both independently and on a team. You can make a difference with your individual talents and past experiences.

    Personally, my experience as a female in the workplace has been wonderful. When I first decided on pursuing a Chemical Engineering degree, I was excited about the challenge. I found that as long as you face the pressures of this career with determination and hard-work, your co-workers will support and respect you, regardless of your gender.

    My time at my co-op has been an amazing experience for me. I knew from the start that Eastman would be a place that I could grow not only in my technical skills, but in my problem-solving abilities as well. One of my favorite things about my work at Eastman is that I have been able to work with operations, maintenance, and engineering on many different team projects. This semester, I was chosen to participate on a project with the plant’s senior management, my boss included!

    Moreover, I have been able to use many skills learned in the classroom, from computer coding to thermodynamics, and apply them to my projects here at Eastman. Some of the smaller projects I was involved in include: writing a Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) Procedure, data entry/analysis, and updating our Piping & Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs). Larger projects have spanned from process optimization to laboratory analysis. In addition, this semester I was selected to be project manager for a relief device replacement on site.
In the future, I would love to utilize both my prior knowledge and my training at Eastman to work on a project concerning process design and control. I am grateful for the chance to be a part of the workforce here and receive valuable, hands-on experience to utilize both at Eastman, and in the future.

Kaitlin Seay is a junior at Auburn University, majoring in Chemical Engineering. She is a member of Auburn’s Cooperative Education Program (Co-op) and is a proud employee of Eastman Chemical Company.