The Class of 2016: Where are they headed?

Congratulations to the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering Class of 2016! 103 undergraduate and graduate students walked across the stage earning their diplomas on May 20. After a college career full of successes and accomplishments, these graduates are headed all over the world to put their degrees to the test. Here are the college experiences of four Texas ChE graduates and their plans for the future.

Paula Koziol
Texas ChE Alumna Paula Koziol in her graduation regalia in front of the UT Tower
Hometown: Katy, Texas.

Q: Tell us about your time here, how did you get involved at UT?

I loved my time at UT because I was able to get involved with a variety of different organizations. Some I stayed with for a shorter time, others I stayed with for a much longer time. As a freshman, I got involved with the Japan Karate Association, but I could only stay with it for a few months due to some of my past injuries that resurfaced.

As I progressed with my degree, I was invited to join the engineering honor societies OXE (Omega Chi Epsilon) and TBP (Tau Beta Pi). As a candidate and active for both societies, I participated in a variety of different events and got to know a lot of my peers. As a senior, I joined the water ski and racquetball teams and had a blast. I couldn’t make it to any water ski tournaments, but with racquetball I made it as far as nationals!

Q: What are your plans for after graduation?

I am currently working for Southwestern Energy in Spring, Texas as a reservoir engineer in their rotational program.

Q: What was your most memorable moment at UT?

My most memorable moment at UT was Commencement. I was inspired by both the speakers and the students. I always associated “Come early, stay late, be loud!” with sports, I never thought it would be the slogan I associated with my graduation!

Q: What was your most challenging ChE project or assignment and what did you learn from it?

The projects I worked on for undergraduate research were my most challenging assignments, because the learning environment was completely different. In a course, with even the most challenging project given to you, you still have a variety of textbooks, professors, TAs, and peers who have worked on or are working on similar assignments. With research projects, it’s different: you are working on it because not many people have worked on it before, so that safety net has disappeared. I learned a very important lesson from my undergraduate research projects – I learned how to learn. I taught myself how to break down a problem that I had no idea how to solve into its most important parts, and I taught myself how to answer those parts.


Jose Noguera

Texas ChE alumnus Jose NogueraHometown: Houston, Texas

Q: Tell us about your time here, how did you get involved at UT?

My four years at UT were incredibly memorable . I’m grateful I was able to make great friendships, learn a lot about engineering,  and grow up as a person in such a short amount of time. While at UT, I was involved in AIChE as an officer, I participated in undergraduate research in Dr. Johnston’s lab studying surfactants for enhanced oil recovery, I worked in the undergraduate office and I served on the Student Conduct Board for one year. I also volunteered to help the department as much as possible.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation I look forward to working for Phillips 66 as a process engineer at one of their refineries.

Q: What will you miss most about The McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering?

I think I’m going to miss the people the most. Spending four years among some of the brightest people I know was a truly enriching experience. I was motivated to be a better student, a harder worker,  and a better version of myself by both the professors and the other students in the department. On top of that, I made friends with incredibly bright people who enriched my understanding of engineering to a much greater degree.

Q: Why would you encourage incoming freshmen to choose chemical engineering?

Choosing chemical engineering isn’t just choosing a major. It is choosing a life not many on campus get the privilege of living. You will be challenged in more ways than you can imagine, your limits will be tested, but at the end of your journey at UT you’ll understand yourself in a deeper way, you’ll be set the change the world in a unique way, and you’ll have made fantastic friends with brilliant people along the way.

Texas ChE doctoral graduate Renee HaleRenee Hale

Hometown: Fishkill, NY
Lab Groups: Dr. Roger Bonnecaze and Dr. Vaibhav Bahadur

Q: Tell us about your time here, how did you get involved at UT?

I was involved in several student organizations at UT, and my favorite activity was leading tours of engineering research labs several times a semester. I enjoyed seeing ongoing experiments firsthand while introducing students to the wide variety of groundbreaking research occurring at UT!

Q: What are your plans for after graduation? 

My plans after graduation are to travel for several months, then start a full-time position as an R&D Associate Engineer with PepsiCo. I love food, so making snack products for Frito-Lay as a career is a perfect fit for me!

Q: Why would you encourage incoming freshmen to choose chemical engineering?

I would encourage freshman to choose chemical engineering because the problem-solving skills they will learn are invaluable, the blend of chemical and mechanical knowledge that they will acquire is incredibly useful, and the career opportunities for chemical engineers are vast and diverse!

Q: What was your most challenging ChE project or assignment and what did you learn from it?

The whole Ph.D. was one long challenging assignment! As I worked on cooling devices for computers and electronics, I learned patience and perseverance, that progress often comes slowly, and that seemingly insurmountable mountains can be overcome by persistent effort.

Texas ChE doctoral graduate Darshan SachdeDarshan Sachde

Hometown: Houston, Texas
Lab group: Dr. Gary Rochelle

Q: Tell us about your time here, how did you get involved at UT?

During my time at UT, I was involved as a teaching assistant for undergraduate Thermodynamics and Senior Design courses, participated in the UT Energy Forum (a student-organized conference on energy research at UT), and mentored an undergraduate research assistant in the ChE department.

I have also served as a governor-appointed member of the Texas Radiation Advisory Board (TRAB), which provides recommendations and guidance to state agencies, the Legislature, and the Governor on radiation-related issues in the state of Texas.

Q: What are your plans for after graduation? 

I will join Trimeric Corporation, a chemical engineering research and technical services company located in Buda, Texas. I will get to apply my background in chemical engineering to problems across many industries and businesses while working as part of a growing company founded by chemical engineers.

Q: What will you miss most about The McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering?

I will miss the people in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering the most.  Over the years, I have come to appreciate how unique and special it is to interact everyday with brilliant people dedicated to their work, education, and support of students. I learned something every day from my advisor (Dr. Rochelle), fellow graduate students, an amazing group of intelligent and inquisitive undergraduate students, and other professors in the department who seemingly always had an open door for students in spite of their busy schedules. The many people that make up the chemical engineering support staff were either helping me with anything and everything I needed to make my time as a graduate student better or were there with a smile every time I saw them around the building. The infectious positive attitude of the people in the department made it a great place to come to work every day. I think when you leave the department, you realize how privileged and lucky you were to spend time around such a diverse, intelligent, and caring group of people.

Q: What was your most challenging ChE project or assignment and what did you learn from it?

In general, learning to work on open-ended research problems in chemical engineering was the most challenging and rewarding experience I have had professionally or academically. I had to learn to be creative and open-minded about my approach to problems while still applying and understanding the fundamental aspects of chemical engineering I had learned as an undergraduate. I also quickly discovered that learning from failure is the foundation of good research and that having the appropriate humility to continue to learn is essential to developing as an engineer and researcher.

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