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Chemical Engineering student selected for prestigious Tau Beta Pi scholarship

Published: August 22, 2022 Author: Chloe Musick

Fourth year chemical engineering student Dominic Riepenhoff doesn’t know exactly where his path will lead after graduation. However, he does know that he is excited to do work that will make a difference.

When Riepenhoff applied for the Tau Beta Pi scholarship — a prestigious engineering scholarship — he submitted an essay detailing his five-year plan. As a student pursuing his chemical engineering degree, Riepenhoff has developed the technical skills to succeed in a variety of industries after graduation. His primary area of interest, however, is the energy industry.

“I am looking forward to joining the energy industry in one way or another. It is greatly expanding, important and interesting,” Riepenhoff said.

Over the summer, Riepenhoff completed a co-op with Cenovus Energy in Lima, where he worked as a Process Safety Management Engineer and led a project that influenced company processes. In this role, he analyzed the hydrogen distribution of the refinery, which plays a key role in chemical reactions that take place in refining oil. He was tasked with starting the site’s Hazard and Operability Analysis (HAZOP), a study that analyzes the current hazards to the plant and develops a plan that actively circumvents those hazards. Because of the lack of knowledge regarding the hydrogen system, Riepenhoff created documents for the refinery that supported the HAZOP team and trained new operators.

“I have been able to do work that has mattered for the company and work that will be used in the future. I look forward to continuing to make an impact,” Riepenhoff said.

To prepare for his career in the energy industry, Riepenhoff worked as an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Tingyue Gu, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Gu’s lab focuses on microbiologically-influenced corrosion.

“Dr. Gu is a global leader in biocorrosion and biocide research. It has been amazing working alongside Dr. Gu and doctoral students, while still being independent. I can do hands-on research and still have my own independence in the lab,” Riepenhoff said.

Riepenhoff’s greatest takeaway from the lab has been how he responds to his failures in his experimentation. He noted that the trust he has been given in the lab has allowed him to learn by doing.

“Even if I don’t succeed right away, I learn from my mistakes,” Riepenhoff said.

Between his work in Gu’s lab and his commitment to working in the energy industry, Riepenhoff has been skillfully crafting his undergraduate experience to bolster whatever step he chooses to take after graduation — whether that is graduate school or working in the energy industry. He is confident that no matter his path, he will use his engineering skills to create something meaningful with lasting impact on the energy production.

When the time came to apply for the Tau Beta Pi scholarship, Riepenhoff communicated his plan to make a difference. Perhaps more importantly, his mentors who had observed his drive while pursuing his academic and professional goals wrote letters of recommendation that reinforced Riepenhoff’s desire to be a change maker.

“This scholarship means to me a lot financially. It has been a very exciting moment for myself, and it was cool to see my hard work pay off,” Riepenhoff said.