Lauren Delaney Rockford, Ill. / 23 Agricultural and Biological Engineering BS, 2014 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Research Associate Novozymes, Franklinton, N.C. Students often struggle with finding relevance in what they do. In engineering, it’s easy to get lost in math, physics, and chemistry courses and lose sight of the future within the field or beyond. On a similar note, it’s easy to get overly focused on studying for a test or making an A and forget to look at the bigger picture. Engineering is more than studying hard enough to pass a class. It’s about learning to identify the most relevant problems and creative solutions. Students and professionals in ag and bio are in a unique position to directly address the diverse and complex problems facing today’s growing global population. It’s one of the branches of engineering that requires the most ingenuity, and the hardest to define. I completed two internships with Novozymes during university summers. I got my foot in the door by working with a U of I grad student on a project sponsored by the company. During my first internship, I conducted research on the effectiveness of various enzymes on grain sorghum for fuel ethanol production. During my second, I learned about near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and helped build models to analyze various samples related to the fuel ethanol production process. These internships gave me a chance to prove myself in a low-risk environment and led to a full-time job offer before I graduated. My education gave me the basics and taught me how to learn, but my internships got me on track to hit the ground running once I started full-time at Novozymes.
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