Spotlight: Chemical Engineering

Cornell Engineering student MelissaMy name is Melissa! I am from Rochester, NY, studying Chemical Engineering. On campus, I am part of the AguaClara research project team and the Therapy Thru Music club. I also live in cooperative housing (Triphammer Cooperative) and love to cook, run, and go on spontaneous adventures with my housemates. Around Ithaca, I enjoy biking (I recently discovered the Black Diamond Trail that goes from Ithaca to Taughannock Falls!), picking fruits (when I stayed here one summer), and watching the sunset.

My favorite Cornell ice cream is probably the coconut ice cream because it’s so refreshing! My favorite place on campus is probably my house or Hollister Hall, where my friends and I used to go and eat lunch or study (and where the AguaClara lab is!).

I like ChemE because the professors are all very personable and love to get to know students outside of the specific class they are teaching, which makes me feel well taken care of even when the work gets tough! I also really like chemistry and have learned a lot of crazy things in the last few years just from taking chemistry classes here (who knew the world was so hard to explain?!). ChemE is also great for me since I was unsure of the track I wanted to take after graduating. The major is broad enough that it’s not uncommon to see people going into a plethora of different industries and fields after graduating. Cornell ChemE grads have gone into pharmaceuticals, energy, startups, finance, manufacturing, as well as grad school.

Outside of the classroom, there are many applications for my major. I encounter objects every day that required some chemical engineering to produce, including the food products I eat, the clothes I wear, and the electricity I use. I personally use things I learned from the chemical engineering curriculum in AguaClara research; my team was especially interested in looking at bonding and interactions between chemicals and contaminants in the water, as well as the fluid dynamics and process flow through the reactor. I also used many basics of general chemistry and mass balances in my cooperative education experience with Janssen Pharmaceuticals over the summer, to create a model for equilibrium of a complex feed powder in solution.

—Melissa, chemical engineering