Welcome Back to Campus! by Sydney Nelson, ChBE, May 2024

Welcome back to campus!

My name is Sydney, and I am a sophomore studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering! I am so excited to be back on campus again and starting another school year. I am so proud of the way our university has handled the challenges of the past year and how we have all been able to work together and get back to in-person learning! I am so happy to have gotten back into the classroom and study spaces and been able to get to know my professors better this year! It is so nice to be able to walk to class again, see friends and classmates on a normal basis, and actually develop a connection with my professors.

We have some of the best faculty here at Illinois, and we are so lucky to be back in person with them and getting their insight and wisdom. I have loved actually getting to know my professors because it makes classes seem less daunting, and has helped me remember they are there to help any time you need it. It has also been so great to meet more of my classmates and collaborate with them without the need for a screen. Although this is a big university, knowing the people you sit next to in class and learning more about them and where they come from makes it feel so much more personal. I am so excited to see everyone around campus and meet more friendly faces! Welcome back everyone, we are so glad to see you again! Go Illini!


Challenge I overcame in a ChBE Class by Michelle Brown, ChBE Dec 2020

Throughout CHBE 321, I really struggled to stay focused during lecture. The issue wasn’t that the lecture material was boring, but rather that the class was 80 minutes long—and in the morning—making it difficult for my brain to stay awake the entire time. Also, the professor handed out completed notes, which was very generous, but gave me even less incentive to focus during class. I typically learn best by writing things down, so without having to take notes in lecture, I found myself understanding the material less and less. When the first exam came around, I was fully confused with the class, and my score reflected this. Although I was disappointed, the first exam definitely gave me a reality check, making me realize I needed to figure out a strategy for staying engaged during lectures.

So, I started taking notes of my own in addition to the notes handed out by the professor. Usually, these were just small comments or elaborations on what he said in lecture, but physically writing things down helped me keep my focus in class. Additionally, before exams, I would go through the notes in detail to make sure I hadn’t missed any points the professor brought up in class. If I didn’t understand something, I would ask a friend in the class or a TA to explain the concept to me. Thankfully, this extra time paid off, because my exam scores improved a lot after my mishap on the first one. In CHBE 321, and really any class I’ve struggled with in college, I’ve found that the best way to improve after a bad first exam is to keep my head up and put in a little extra work to adapt the way I study for the class.

Belonging to an RSO by Quyen Nguyen, ChBE Dec 2019

So, you’re here at college looking to meet new people and have fun.  Classes are great and all for that, especially when the professor tells you to turn to the person next to you and say hi. However, I found that interactions like that really don’t extend beyond the classroom. You go your separate ways when the clock strikes :50. 

For me, making friends and building a supportive community at college came with joining an RSO, or registered student organization. Campus felt much smaller when I can walk through the quad and can say hi to people. You also get to add more to your portfolio; you become more than just your major, year, and suburb of Chicago. There will also be more to your conversations with others than when is the next homework due, what classes are you taking, the average on this exam stinks, and other catchy phrases heard between the seats of Noyes 100. 

Most RSOs have both social and professional events so it is also a great way to expand your professional network; you are productively socializing! Along the same line, the more effort that you put into an organization, the more responsibilities you’ll take on and the more to share with recruiters.

My Co-Op with Kimberly Clark by Sanjna Shah, ChBE, Dec 2020

My name is Sanjna Shah and I am currently a Senior in Chemical Engineering. During Fall 2019 I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work as a Co-Op with Kimberly Clark in Neenah, WI.

In Fall 2018 I was searching for an experience in the CPG industry and attended an information were Kimberly Clark representatives were present. I made a really good connection with one of the recruiters during this informal event before the career fair. This made it really easy to talk to the representative again during the career fair where I was able to talk through some of my experiences and skills. I landed an interview within the same week and received an offer in a very timely manner.

In Neenah, I worked as a Process Engineer in one of their manufacturing facilities. I had a manager who helped set my objectives and oversaw my work but I worked mostly with my mentor and other process engineers. The longer term gave me the opportunity to work on multiple projects at one time. One of my projects involved data analysis and troubleshooting for a common issue. Another included an investigation and economic analysis of a specific piece of equipment. I was very interested in product development as well so I was able to work on an additional project working with a different team.

Overall, I had a lot of unique opportunities due to the flexibility of my work environment. In manufacturing, problems are made and solved everyday so you have to always think on your feet. I learned a lot about how to move on when something didn’t go the way you expected and learn from that experience. I was surrounded by a lot of hardworking people who were very knowledgeable about the work that they did and that pushed me to want to learn as much as I could.

There were about 50 other Co-Ops at the Neenah site working in various functions during Fall 2019. There were many opportunities to connect with each other and participate in fun events. I definitely made some lifelong connections during my term.

I will be returning to Kimberly Clark working on Product Development in Roswell, Georgia for Summer 2020 before I graduate in December 2020. I am excited to learn more about the company and continue my career with them!