Chemical Engineering students prepare for life after college


Another semester is coming to a close at the University of Illinois. And, with that more than 100 students from Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering will graduate on Sunday with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Illinois. 

Paul J.A. Kenis, William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor and Department Head, says the worth of this degree is shown with the future of these students.

“The value of this degree is evident from the large fraction of our graduates who already have been recruited to their next destination, be it to a job in industry or to a graduate program to pursue a Ph.D.,” Kenis said.

Senior Grant Blazina from Naperville, Illinois, is one of those graduates who will say goodbye to the University on Sunday. He says the support and encouragement from the Chemical Engineering department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences led him to travel to Italy for a two-week summer study abroad; now one of his best memories from the University.

After graduation, Blazina will move to Houston, Texas to work for Shell Oil Company as a Deepwater Completions Engineer.

“Through my studies, research, internships, volunteering, and student organizations, I have definitely grown academically, professionally, and socially throughout my four years here,” Blazina said. “CHBE at Illinois gave me the knowledge and experience needed to intern with Shell and be successful.”

Some of the seniors of the 2014 Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering graduating class.
Some of the seniors of the 2014 Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering graduating class.

He says the team projects from each semester helped instill the importance of collaboration and teamwork in accomplishing goals.

Blazina will join his classmates on Sunday, May 18, for the department’s Convocation ceremony that will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Colwell Playhouse, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana. A reception at the Studio Theatre at Krannert Center will immediately follow the ceremony.

Joining Blazina will be senior Takeya Green also from Naperville, Illinois. Following graduation, she will head to Freeport, Texas to work for The Dow Chemical Company as a Process Engineer.

Green says her favorite memories include seeing Professor Kenis flip his hair like Tom Cruise in ChBE 321 and being named president of The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). As NSBE president, she helped the Illinois chapter be named National Chapter of the Year.

Green enjoyed her time at the University and her classes she took to become a chemical engineer. “The course work challenged me to solve many problems and also helped me decide what I truly wanted to do,” she said. “It also developed my work ethic.”

Fellow classmate and senior Yolanda Bonita from Jakarta, Indonesia will complete a one-year internship with ADM following graduation and then plans to apply to graduate school for fall 2015 admissions.

She says one of her best memories at her time at Illinois is being able to perform research in Dr. Kenis’ research group as an undergraduate. “Through this experience, I applied the knowledge I learned from class, and I also met amazing people in the research group who shared their grad school experiences. Their stories and advice have inspired me to pursue grad school.”

Joining Omega Chi Epsilon, the honor society for chemical engineering, also helped Bonita to learn communication and networking skills as well as interacting with faculty and professionals in the chemical engineering field.

“ChBE at Illinois allows us to engage in professional networking events that help us interact with professors, faculty members, and even companies,” she said. “The academic and professional skills you get are the whole package you need to be successful.”

The Convocation ceremony also includes speaker and alumnus Paul Adriani, B.S. ’85. After graduating from the University of Illinois, he earned a master’s and doctorate from Stanford University. He is the Integration Technical Manager, Module R&D at SunPower Corporation.

Adriani has more than 20 years of technical and senior management experience in both Fortune 500 and start-up companies. He has nine years of experience in developing new products that convert sunlight into electricity as a small part of the worldwide effort to scale up renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce climate change. He enjoyed building an off-grid solar system to power a mountain cabin.

Advanced registration is required for the formal department ceremony. For tickets, please contact Becky Lyle, rlyle@], (217) 244-2819.