McNeese students experience meaningful internships at Sasol

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McNeese students experience rewarding internships at Sasol

Posted 6:05 p.m. Saturday, October 15, 2022

By Tanya Brewster | Special for the American press

Sasol’s Lake Charles Chemical Complex and McNeese State University work together to provide opportunities for McNeese engineering students, which sometimes prove beneficial to Sasol.

Sasol hosted six McNeese State University students for technical services internships last summer.

“Our internships at Sasol provide a real-world experience within our resort,” explained Crystal Briscoe, McNeese graduate and coordinator of Sasol’s internship program. “Students gain specialist knowledge and job shadowing, as well as refresher training in communication, career preparation, and presentation skills.”

The McNeese students, all with engineering degrees, donned their personal protective equipment and were observed in several areas of the complex. They met with professionals from maintenance, construction, reliability, automation, as well as safety, health and environment of the complex.

“The best part of the internship for me was being able to follow other departments in Sasol and see how each department has its own role in helping to achieve the same ultimate goals as a business,” explained Kayden Serie from Mamou.

Internships are not just about being “at the table” but also about sharing thoughts and ideas in meetings. Alex Lilly of Lake Charles said he had the confidence to speak up in meetings and contribute to the conversation because of the knowledge he learned in class at McNeese.

However, internships also provide lessons beyond the classroom. While walking through a chemical manufacturing complex, students can see distillation columns, heat exchangers, and other vessels. These are no longer drawings, theory or calculations on paper – this is real.

When engineering students take exams, they are given every piece of the puzzle and an exact answer is expected.

“In the real world, not everything works as well and takes a little more work, but it makes the end results much more satisfying,” explained Lindsey Priola of Lacassine.

Prior to the internship, Priola did not have a clear picture of the work of a chemical engineer.

“Sasol gave me a glimpse of what my life will be like when I graduate, and I absolutely fell in love. Every day is a new and sometimes unexpected experience, but that’s what makes the job of such a fun chemical engineer,” she said.

An engineering major’s career at McNeese State University culminates with a senior capstone project. Students work with local industries and businesses to help solve problems that give students real-world experience.

Engineering is a key driving force in Southwest Louisiana, where economic expansion, energy resources, and technological advancements have driven a high demand for engineering graduates. McNeese’s Department of Engineering and Computer Science prepares students for careers in engineering with interdisciplinary teamwork, academic development, hands-on projects, and professional ethics in a comprehensive education.

“One of McNeese’s primary goals is to produce well-prepared graduates to enter the workforce,” said Tim Hall, dean of the faculty of science, engineering and mathematics. “Internships play a major role in this development. Classroom instruction is designed to emphasize practical applications, and the opportunities presented by undergraduate internships only enhance their preparation.

Recently, Sasol benefited from the design work carried out by a multidisciplinary team of senior engineering students. The team assessed Sasol’s sewage aeration ponds and designed upgrades to replace aging equipment in accordance with the latest sewage loads.

After evaluating the efficiency of the existing equipment, the team recommended suitable replacement technology, including new fans and air diffusers. The students considered the organic flows and loads from the different units of the site.

Sasol was delighted that the design took into account the latest advances in blowing and diffusion technology, the existing electrical infrastructure and an overhauled control system. Estimated savings on rental equipment and maintenance costs are estimated at nearly $500,000 per year, according to Sasol’s Sean Shepherd, technology manager for the ethylene unit at Sasol’s Lake Charles East plant. . Sasol is in the process of implementing these recommendations.

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