group photo at resturant
Stefanie Funk (Bottom Left) catching up with faculty members Dr. Lane (Top Left), Dr. Ritchie (Top Right) and Dr. Arnold (Bottom Right)

Stefanie Funk graduated in 2014. However, prior to finishing her degree she gained real-world experience as a chemical engineer by taking advantage of the university’s cooperative education (co-op) program. As a co-op student, she worked in process controls at Sabic. Following graduation, she procured a position at Hargrove where she continued to work in process controls. At this stage in her career, she now works at BBP and is responsible for designing safety mechanisms, programming projects, and has managed multimillion dollar PLC to DCS conversions. Her experience at Hargrove made it clear to her just how prominent control systems are in any setting that involves chemical engineering. Mills, chemical plants, and refineries are all operated via advanced control systems. Thus, as Stefanie realized, it is imperative that every chemical engineer be able to understand and interpret data from these systems.

In recent years, Stefanie has taken the initiative to boost chemical engineering graduates’ proficiency with controls by getting involved with her alma mater. She started this process by getting in touch with Dr. Arnold and giving presentations in health and safety classes. Then she joined the department’s Advisory Board. As a board member, Stefanie provides faculty with important insight from an industrial perspective. Moreover, she has been working with college technicians to update the Unit Operations Lab with more current information and controls system. This transition in equipment has helped students gather a greater volume of data in shorter periods of time. In turn, students have been able to invest more energy into producing calculations, experiments, and analysis. For Stefanie, these are just the first steps towards promoting a better understanding of controls for students at the Capstone. Down the road, she intends to continue to work with the department to implement an industrial controls system that students can utilize.