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Chemical Engineering student named American Chemical Society - Rubber Division scholar

Isabel Baca, a third-year chemical engineering student, has her sights set on making a positive impact on environmental sustainability. While she is currently majoring in chemical engineering, she has supplemented her classroom education with hands-on experiential learning activities that have made her a well-rounded candidate for her future career opportunities and the opportunity to become an American Chemical Society (ACS) - Rubber Division Scholar.  

In her application for the ACS award, Baca did not write about her experience in the rubber industry — she didn’t have any experience. Instead, she wrote about her passion for environmental health and sustainability and how she has shaped her experiences inside and outside of the classroom around her passions.  

“I feel that sustainability has taken a larger role in all chemical engineering practices in the past few years, and so it is a topic I often talk about because it can be applied to any application or industry,” Baca said.  

Like many engineering students in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Baca has participated in an internship to gain real professional experience in a manufacturing environment. Specifically, Baca has interned at Parker Hannifin for the past two summers as a Corporate Environmental Health and Safety intern. 

“It is not an engineering internship, so when I first got the job, I was not sure how this would help me down the road. However, I am so thankful that I took this job because it has opened me up to so many possibilities after college. Environmental health and safety work aligns with my passions and showed me the importance of having a diverse set of professional experiences, not only to bolster my resume but to find out what interests me after college,” Baca said. 

According to Baca, her greatest accomplishment has been her growth mindset. While she has seen success in her internship and in the classroom, she would not have achieved what she has thus far without her flexibility and willingness to try new experiences. In fact, she plans to participate in undergraduate research next year working on lithium-sulfur batteries in professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering, John Staser’s lab. It is her growth mindset that has helped her to earn her award with the ACS.  

As she mentioned in her application for the ACS scholarship, she does not have direct experience with the rubber industry, but she is excited to continue to embrace her growth mindset and learn more. Baca plans to dive into the rubber subset of chemical engineering at the International Elastomer Conference in October 2023, where she will also formally accept her award.  

“After college, I hope to help the environment in whatever job or position I take. Whether I do that in the rubber industry, environmental health and safety or chemical engineering is still for me to decide in these last two years of college, and I am so excited to continue exploring all those possibilities,” Baca said.  

July 12, 2023
Staff reports