STEP Spring 2019 Co-op Reflection

My step signature project entailed working at the company LyondellBasell for 5 months. I was a process engineer that aided in maintaining the process of producing alcohol and microthene and upkeeping the safety of the site.
My understanding of the career field and ways to work together with people changed. I had not done an internship/ co-op prior to this one, so I was very confused and nervous about what I would be doing. LyondellBasell gave me projects to work on that were not just busy work. It gave me an idea of what I would actually be doing in the field. This also helped in highlighting how to apply the knowledge I learn in class to the real world and helps guide my class choices in the future to gain a specialty. I learned how to better work with and interact with people of different backgrounds and different specialties. This helps especially since we are only exposed to people in our major at school, but at a real job there are people with multiple different disciplines.
The projects I worked on really contributed to my understanding of the career field. I was given multiple projects and had the independence to figure them out on my own while getting help when I needed it. These projects included implementing flow meters, removing piping, and changing settings on specific equipment. I thought this was a simple process, but upon designing the details of the project, I realized that a lot more considerations and detail had to go into the project so as to not put anyone in danger or disrupt the process. This also contributed to my realization in how to apply chemical engineering to process engineer role.
I also learned the importance of safety in the career field, specifically at chemical plants. We were required to wear PPE whenever out in the plant. I had thought it was just a precaution, but big accidents where we would need them rarely occurred. I was mistaken. Nothing happened at our plant, but we discussed incidents that have happened or were currently happening across the world. It made me realize the importance of the PPE and all the precautions we take to ensure that no one gets injured. It made me appreciate my projects that were centered around safety aspects more because I realized it did matter that I completed them.
All of the projects that I worked on at the plant required someone else’s input. The someone or some people could be another engineering discipline, a finance advisor, lab tech, operator, or mechanic. I was able to interact with all of these people and be able to accomplish my projects successfully. They all had more experience than I did and focused on aspects that I did not, so I learned a lot about how the process at the plant worked and what they normally have to be concerned with when a project occurs. In addition, many of the people grew up in a small town in very rural parts. I was raised in an urban/suburban area. It was good experience to learn how to get along with people of a different backgrounds and ideations.
This transformation is valuable for my future career. Being able to do this internship allowed me to learn how to apply my knowledge in an actual job and gave me an idea of the specific area I would want to work in in the future. I was able to learn from experienced coworkers that taught me how to best conduct myself in the company and teaching me how to be successful in this role really helped prepare me for my future in any job that I choose.