Jennifer Boice, ’14 chemical engineering
Process Development Engineer
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
A day in the work life . . . working for a specialty chemicals company, I primarily focus on the development and scale up of processes in the plant. For example, I determine how to take a product, such as lithium and lithium compounds, or bromine and derivatives, that was successfully produced for smaller lab scale and produce it in the plant at a much larger scale — hundreds of gallons. A large responsibility of my job is to plan the production process that takes place in the plant. This involves working closely with the chemists during product development and production, and also with the plant operators to get the equipment set up and the process running safely. Safety is becoming talked about more and more across all engineering disciplines, and it’s a large part of my everyday responsibility to emphasize the stringent processes and standards we have set in the plant. We all realize that safety is not just a trending topic of the moment, but is what we’re building our future around regarding our plant’s efficiency.
Career success . . . at Albemarle, my biggest accomplishment to date has been leading the production campaigns that take place in the plant. I have had the opportunity to be the project lead and it has been a positive experience. During the development of one of the projects, we were having some issues obtaining the desired product. I was able to use what I learned at Auburn about particle engineering to gain a better understanding of the process and what to expect. As a result, we were able to more accurately predict behavior during production and were able to use this information to address other similar issues in the plant.
Life lessons . . . ever since entering the working world, I’ve been learning how to juggle several things at once. At Auburn, the importance of teamwork in engineering was repeatedly emphasized, and that was something that I really took to heart and brought with me in the workplace. Being a good team player has been valuable for me on the job, as I have been able to work with a lot of different people with varying degrees of experience and skills. Recognizing other people’s talents has allowed me to form strong teams.
Chemical calling . . . I love the fundamentals of chemical engineering and I wanted to learn how to apply them to a chemical process. So it ended up being a perfect coupling to go into process engineering. In graduate school, we tended to get tunnel vision on our projects and we would lose track of the big picture. I wanted to take a step back out of the tunnel and look at the big picture. We are creating products that are shipped all over the world. It’s nice to understand the molecular thermodynamics and the kinetics of a reaction, but to apply those ideas on the large scale and make a product . . . that’s cool.
Future leader . . . in five years, I would like to be in a leadership role at Albemarle. I really love the process engineering aspect of my job and working on a team to achieve a goal. I hope to be doing more of that, but at a higher level. I also plan to remain very involved with Auburn Engineering and will continue to do what I can to help future engineers reach their goals.
Auburn Engineering impact . . . my Auburn degree and my experience at Auburn helped me in and out of the classroom. Not only did I gain a strong technical background, but I learned a lot about teamwork and leadership, too. Auburn provided me with a unique experience as a graduate student because I was able to work on my doctorate and serve in various leadership roles on campus. I would highly encourage Auburn Engineering students to take advantage of leadership positions now because it will pay off in your professional future. I learned how to juggle and manage a variety of different tasks at once and how to work with different types of people. The opportunities I had at Auburn helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses, and I have become a better engineer because of this realization. In addition, Dean Chris Roberts taught me many lessons while I was pursuing my doctorate, as my mentor and adviser. He coached me through numerous life obstacles and research hurdles that often extended far beyond the classroom. Now I am at the point in my career where I have opportunities to mentor others and Dean Roberts’ words of wisdom come through daily as I coach others and navigate my own career. I feel blessed to be part of the Auburn Family, and I am looking forward to more opportunities to share my passion for Auburn with the younger generation.