ChemDesign Products, Inc.

National Engineers Week: Meet our Engineering Team

Engineers Week recognizes and promotes the future of the engineering profession in the US by increasing the understanding of and interest in field-specific careers. From February 21st- 27th, in celebration of National Engineers’ Week, we’ve asked our team to provide insight on what inspired them to become engineers in hopes to encourage future engineers and technicians.

Neil Nordstrom – Process Engineer
“I have always liked chemistry and math. I also get great enjoyment out of figuring out how something works, and problem-solving. The field of Chemical Engineering covered all those. I started college in pharmacy. I quickly realized that being behind a counter for the rest of my life would not be enjoyable. Since I have always enjoyed working with my hands and problem solving, I figured that Chem E was a good fit. In the past, I have worked in a few different environments (1 paper mill, 2 chemical plants, and a consulting firm). Pretty early in my career, I was able to determine that a chemical plant was my preferred environment. Today, I work as a process optimization engineer. I have many opportunities to be hands-on, troubleshoot, problem-solve, and understand new processes workflows.”

David Jaszczak – Process Engineer
“When I was young, I filled my time with Legos. The imagination behind the building was fun. In chemistry, I was fascinated by our understanding of how atoms are the building blocks of matter, how chemicals bond and interact with one another. In my junior year at MTU, I interned at ChemDesign. The hands-on experience confirmed my choice to become a Chemical Engineer. Today, I work as a process engineer and have enjoyed every minute of it. I have learned a lot. Working with the operators to better the chemical processes for their safety and to produce the highest quality product for our clients has given me pride in the work I do.”

Julia Possi – Environmental Engineer
“In grade school, I always enjoyed math and science, especially chemistry, and I have always loved a good puzzle. Going to school for chemical engineering seemed like a good fit. Proving I could succeed in a traditionally male-dominated field was a bonus. After graduating, I worked as a process engineer in the agricultural processing and petrochemical industries. I currently work as an environmental engineer managing the data for ChemDesign’s air permit. My favorite days at my job are the ones where I get to dig in and solve a problem. It is stressful to face problems. However, it is satisfying knowing that I was able to contribute to the success of the team. My advice, especially to young women, would be to pursue something you enjoy and do not be intimidated by anyone who tells you that it is too hard or that you will not fit in. I have found the chemical industry very welcoming if you work hard and treat everyone with respect.”

Derek Norkoli – Building 38 Manager – Process Engineer
“During school, I was very much in love with math and science subjects. I chose to be an engineer because I wanted a job that is different every day. I also wanted to use my brain to problem solve. I am grateful I can do that every day to ensure smooth production and quality at ChemDesign. My advice to future chemical engineering students is to pick your career on what you like to do. You will be much happier down the road.”

Kevin Possi – Building 52 Manager
“As a little kid, I always wanted to know how things work. I see it in my young kids, and I know they will be interested in STEM. My inquisitive nature sparked my interest in chemical engineering. Later in my young adulthood, I realized I needed to pursue a career that would sustain my family and me. My advice to future engineers and technicians would be to take all of the science courses you can and discover what you like to do.”

Chris Moore – Shift Supervisor
“I always had an interest in robotics and chemistry since I was young. The technology was something that always held my attention. Naturally, I wanted to work in a STEM-related field. Lab work was not what I was looking to go into, so I found chemical engineering as a major at school, ran with it, and never looked back.”

Bob Martins – Process Engineer
“I always wanted to be in an engineering field. While I worked full-time, I decided to go back to school. However, the university did not offer the degree I wanted. I studied chemistry and worked using my chemistry degree. After a year in my position, I decided I wanted to pursue engineering, and with my background, chemical engineering seemed like a great fit.”

Bryon Leggett – VP of Business Development
“When I was growing up I was obsessed with science and flight in particular.  I planned to become an aeronautical engineer, but when I got out of the Army there wasn’t a state school in South Carolina that offered it.  I was trying to decide between mechanical and chemical engineering when a Clemson engineering advisor suggested that the chemical program would be too challenging for someone who had been out of school for a few years, so chemical it was!  My chemical engineering background has allowed me to work in product development, process engineering, operations management, and business development roles so that I have been able to experience many facets of chemical manufacturing at several different companies across three continents.  The decision to pursue chemical engineering was one of the best I’ve made in my life.”

Garrett Unsworth – Process Engineer
“I was interested to know how things are made. The conditions of pressure and temperature needed to make materials interested me. The equipment that is used to make products we use every day, even when we do not notice it, needs a Chemical Engineer to be able to design the process and equipment necessary to meet the conditions to produce certain materials. They need to know how to run all equipment at peak performances to produce high-quality products. It is nice knowing you are always needed to produce products we use every day.
I was always interested in Chemistry and Math, probably because I knew them the best. This persuaded me to go to a college for Chemical Engineering, which heavily relies on chemistry and math to solve problems. I got a chemical engineering degree at Michigan Tech then started working in manufacturing to get hands-on experience with how stuff is made. Solving problems and implementing new ideas to save money, increase production, and efficiency helped me build my resume.”

Kurt Scott – Engineering Manager
“When I was in high school, I became interested in chemistry and had chemistry for two hours every day during my sophomore, junior, and senior years. In college, chemistry continued to be the focus which eventually resulted in a chemistry degree and a job in a chemical research lab. This company also employed many engineers that supported operating plants throughout the country, and we worked together on multiple projects. One year after graduation, I was back to school for a chemical engineering degree. Engineering provides the opportunity to be out in the facilities solving problems and building, repairing, and improving systems. “

Leave a Reply