Brodie Franklin
Undergrad: University of Puget Sound; University of Oregon - Chemistry
Track: Polymers & Coatings
Internship: Momentive
Currently at Portland State University

 

 

What was your undergraduate institution?
University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. I also did a second undergraduate degree at UO in Chemistry.

How did you find yourself at Oregon? What about the program attracted you?
My initial reasons for choosing UO were the opportunity to get into a research lab more quickly than any other institution I looked at and the quality feedback I got from the professors and advisors in the chemistry department.

I had planned to get a master’s degree in chemistry when I returned to school, and long-term I wanted a career in industry. The internship program was a perfect fit for my goals. The most attractive feature was the internship and how quickly I would get exposure to an industrial setting.

I also had a familiarity with several of the professors in the program and felt like I would learn a lot in their classes.

What was the intensive summer like for you?
I didn’t feel the summer was too bad. The core curriculum covered a wide variety of subjects, and in hindsight I see the benefit of this more than I did at the time. I felt like the progression was well designed to transition from a strict chemistry focus to studying materials. For example, many of the people in the program had a chemistry background and our first class focused on the chemistry of polymers. Then the following classes started branching out to discuss properties of materials and manufacturing.

The lab classes were the most helpful part of the summer; again this is something I recognize in hindsight. Prior to the summer I had never spent 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in a lab - nor had I been required to adapt my lab setup to accommodate several different types of chemistry and processing at once. While this is a commonplace activity for me today, I think it would have been a more difficult transition without the long intensive lab classes.

I believe recent changes in the program have resolved the most difficult parts of the professional development part of the program. It was difficult to have professional development at the start of the summer and then get nothing for 8-10 weeks until interviews were on the horizon. It was also difficult to balance class load and preparing for/going to interviews. The new structure of the program spreads the professional development training throughout the summer, with an intensive portion at the beginning - and a refresher at the end right before the interview event.

Where did you do your internship?
Momentive in Springfield, OR. The branch of the company I work with does wood adhesives and wax coatings.

Without giving away any proprietary info, what was your internship like? What were you responsible for? What was a typical day like?
My internship was focused around one specific project, a new technology the company was working to patent. My job was to optimize and expand the original idea so the patent could be as broad as possible and the original idea would be ready for production/use at the end of my internship. Toward the end of my internship I began working with other products and took on an additional project related to flame resistant resins.

The majority of my days involved making polymer emulsions. I would probably average about 2 a week and with our production process this was a full days’ work. On “non-emulsion” days I would often analyze a batch I made previously or run studies in our pilot plant facility.

Did you feel the program prepared you for the internship? In what ways?
The best preparation for the internship came from the lab classes during the program. Along with the labs, our daily process meetings helped to change my “processing speed”. For example, in undergraduate lab classes I had a week to review what I had done and draw conclusions, but during the summer program I had 8 to 10 hours for the same process.

The program also provided a good foundation of knowledge about a wide variety of polymer types and processing, so I didn't have to start from scratch during the internship. In my case, we didn’t study emulsion polymerization in depth during the summer, but I knew enough about the general process to get started and develop a more in depth knowledge along the way.

How did your internship prepare you for your current position/career path?
I was hired on where I interned, so starting as an intern was excellent preparation. I did transition to a different group when I was hired full time; this involved learning different chemistries and running reactions differently but these were pretty easy changes to make.