Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Official blog of the Lehigh University Chemical Engineers

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So last time, I posted about how the internship interview that I had was really stressful. The whole internship process is kinda stressful to be honest. You may not get the first one or two or three that you apply for, but it’s important to keep up the determination and keep on applying. As of now, I have applied to 8, and only received 1 interview.

While this may sound like a lot of work, the majority of applications are the same. I would say one of the only things you really have to change is your cover letter. As for those, I have a blanket couple paragraphs about my resume and  personal skills, but have a specific paragraph that I modify for each company that I apply for. Writing one paragraph isn’t that much work. I have one pdf file of my resume that I use for every application.

Not trying to crush your spirits, but don’t expect replies for every internship you apply for. Last year, I hardly got any. I would suggest that if it is a position that you are extremely interested in, and it’s been a month or so since you’ve applied, then email the company asking when you may hear a reply. This is not annoying, it shows that you are interested and willing to go after what you want. The key to getting an internship is being a little bit aggressive.

Happy internship hunting! It can be hard and a little bit disappointing, but don’t give up. Your dream internship is waiting for you!

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So yesterday I had my first internship interview. I was a little nervous, only because I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Usually, I am very good with answering questions on the spot, but this wasn’t a basic interview. I wasn’t expecting it to be 3-on-1, but it was. That created some more nerves because it’s harder to connect with 3 people than it is with 1 person.

When it came to the basic interview questions, I was pretty much fine. It was the usual, tell me about a time when you [insert typical interview question here.] The goal there is to tell of an experience  that makes you look good while answering their question.

The technical questions were the ones that threw me off just a bit. I’ve never had those in an interview before, and for those of you who may not know what that is, it’s basically a question like the following (thanks google for providing this for me): “You want to build a pipe through a mountain. What issues would you need to overcome to make this happen?” The goal of these types of questions is to see how you think through problems, but the hard part is expressing your thoughts. Writing things down is encouraged, definitely take your time to think about it. And when it comes down to the common question, “what if I have no idea how to answer that?” I would say, according to some research on the good, old internet, don’t try to fool them. Be honest, say something along the lines of, “Based on my limited knowledge of the subject, this is where I would start, [give them something], and from there I would have to research that problem a little bit more and get back to you.”

Interviews can be tough and overwhelming, but each one gives you some experience and insight. Did I nail my first one? Eh, I would give myself maybe like a 5/10, but I feel very confident that I could do better on the next one.

Good luck interviewing!

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Finally Putting the Pieces Together

I remember a few times freshman year when professors would tell me, “oh, you’re going to need this later on!” or “pay attention to this! You’re going to use this all the time!” For some reason, I didn’t think they were telling the truth. I’ll let you in on a little secret: THEY TOTALLY WERE. If I had to describe the college experience in a nice metaphor, I would say that college is like a puzzle.

Freshman year, you’re going around and finding the pieces you need. You don’t know what you’re going to be using for, you’re literally just acquiring them and holding them in your possession, maybe even forgetting that they were there. This is basically referring to the pre-requisites, the humanities requirements, and the literature seminars that you need to take. The “you don’t know when you’re ever going to use this again in your life” kind of classes. You don’t take them super seriously because you’re thinking, “this isn’t related to my major, so who cares.”

Sophomore year, you’re finding some more pieces, but you’re finally starting to figure out that eventually you’re gonna need to fit everything together. You see a match here or a match there, but you don’t have all the pieces quite yet. This is referring to you finishing up all of the basic courses, and taking a few major class. There may be some overlap between new material and old, but mostly you’re just starting to see some connections.

By junior year, you’re really aware that the objective is to complete the puzzle. More and more matches are starting to be obvious to you. You could have the entire border of the puzzle done, picking up the final pieces as you’re marching through. More and more overlap is starting to occur. Those double integrals you learned back in Calculus 2 are popping up in physical chemistry. The partial derivatives you learned in Calculus 3, literally mentioned in all of your classes. Trends of the periodic table in Chem 1? You need to know that too.

Finally Senior year, you’re finishing that puzzle. You finally see what the picture is, and you’re so close to being done. By the time you graduate, you have an amazing and completed (hopefully) puzzle! With the image of course, being your major.

Now I’m clearly not an English major, due to my fairly simple metaphor shown above. But the message that I hope got across is the following: college isn’t a bunch of individual classes that you have to take and pass. College is learning the basics and constantly building on that knowledge until you finally learn what you need to know to call yourself an engineer, or a biologist or fashion designer. Don’t think that because a class is a basic level, that it isn’t important!

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Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium Rd. 2

This Wednesday the 2nd round of the undergraduate research symposium took place in grand fashion at the Steps concourse. There were more than 30 teams each presenting their hard work of research and projects. It exhibits the intensive qualities of Lehigh engineering students. It’s also a perfect demonstration of the exciting research opportunities Lehigh offers to undergraduate students. I found my ChE friends proudly presenting their work. In fact, two ChE groups presented on their excellent work on the senior design project.

One of the groups’ design project topic is Dry Methane Reforming. It’s a process that produces syngas by reacting carbon dioxide with hydrocarbons such as methane. According to Martin Halmann, In recent years, increased concerns on the contribution of greenhouse gases to global warming have increased interest in the replacement of steam as reactant with carbon dioxide.

The other group presented on Bio-production of 1,3-propanediol (PDO). Typically, PDO is produced from Ethylene Oxide, which ironically is the final product of my design project. Recently, companies started to invest in production of PDO from renewable sources such as corn. In fact, the picture of the carpet square in the slideshow below is an example of what can be made from bio-produced PDO. It’s very fluffy and awesome.

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Joining the M2 Program

I’m very excited to tell you that I’m accepting the offer to join the Lehigh Master of Science in Management (M2) program after graduation. M2 is a one year graduate program that lets engineering students to build a business skill set toward career goals. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to sharpen my business acumen, and really adding another strong tool into my skill sets. I made an earlier post about M2, and you can view it here. I really believe that diversifying my skills helps to succeed in life. And I wanted to share with you a short paragraph from my Personal Statement that I had do for program application:

“Along the road of growing up, I have picked up a few words of wisdom that were made popular over the millennium. One of my favorite ones was that “if you want to succeed in life, you have to be an expert at something.” It was not until the end of my junior year of college that the overwhelming amount of power and truth of these words began to sink in. Scrambling in a quest for expertise, I quickly discovered it is not enough to become just an expert in one field. I believe that in order to truly succeed I must build many tools around myself. A Swiss Army Knife is often more handy than a single screwdriver. A screwdriver might do one job well, but a Swiss Army Knife can do much more. Having the engineering technical background in my pocket, I wish to expand my horizon by joining the Master of Science in Management Program.”

I think that building a solid business education onto the foundation of my Chemical Engineering degree will not only hone my business acumen, but it will also provide me the necessary tools to contribute to my future company. It’s really about building up from my Chemical Engineering degree and take the talent to a different ground.Effective-Management-of-People-Large


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Last Unit Ops Experiment


My lab partner and I concluded our last Unit Ops experiment this past Wednesday. In fact, it was the last Unit Ops experiment session that we had to do, EVER. It’s bittersweet to think about the fact that we’ve been through so much with this lab class. All the ups and downs we’ve had, I’m going to treasure these moments. And when I graduate, I’m going to miss this place and all the fun we had. It’s been quite a journey. We’ve conducted a total of 10 different experiments in this room. We moved from one station to another, restlessly, one week after another. It was exhausting but also quite rewarding. I was not only be able to review the knowledge I learned from earlier classes, I was also able to apply it.

The last experiment we had to do was the Refrigeration experiment. The objective of this experiment is to analyze the vapor compression refrigeration cycle and assessing its performance from the coefficient of performance (COP). The system operates under varies conditions, and the experimentally generated COP will be compared to the theoretical COP. The three testing conditions that is going to be varied to generate real life conditions are the cooling water temperature, process water temperature, and the RPM of the compressor. Since many refrigeration units have air-cooled condensers, the seasonal changes in the temperature of the ambient air can be simulated by changing the cooling water flow rate. The variation in performance of the refrigeration system will also be assessed from the cooling duty changes by adjusting the RPM of the compressor.

In the center of the picture, my lab partner is carefully assessing the cooling water flow rates and making sure it maintains at the same level.

This Wednesday is the final presentation for this lab. After that, we need to submit a two page letter report summarizing the results. Once that’s submitted, we’ll actually be finished with Unit Ops. I’ll be ready by then to equipment myself with the knowledge I learned and take on future challenges.

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Leadership Consultant w/ SASE

At SASE, we like to learn while having fun. A few weeks ago, we invited trained leaders from the Office of Student Leadership Development (OSLD) to come over for leadership workshop that help the next year’s SASE eBoard members to better understand leadership roles. Two OSLD representatives came and they presented us with basic leadership concepts and fun activities to do.

One of the activities was to build the tallest tower with given pasta noodles and marshmallows. Sounds interesting right? Each person was given a random amount of pasta and marshmallows to start. The activity helped me to learn the dynamics of a team, and how the leader of a team is evolved. I learned that communication is a major aspect that affect the effectiveness of a team. Being able to get ideas across makes a important difference between a efficient team and a not so efficient team.

Having a solid engineering background is critical to my future success, however, I think having great leadership abilities is just as important. I wish to evolve as a leader in the future, and at the same time utilizing my Chemical Engineering knowledge to benefit my community. Chemical Engineering is a universal engineering; it means that the associated concepts could applied almost everywhere. Knowing that, it really offers diversified possibilities as to what I want to do with my Chemical Engineering degree. Going forward, I’m going to pursue a Master of Science in Management degree at Lehigh. It’ll not only add value to my Lehigh experience, but also provide me a well-rounded academic portfolio.

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