Western is just right for this chemical engineer

Contact: Cindy Wagner
Emily Principe in front of Nestle Corporation sign

As an engineering intern at Nestle Gerber, Western chemical engineering student Emily Principe coordinated an industrial trial for a new food product and collected and analyzed pilot plant data, among other duties.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—“Every time I leave the Parkview campus, I see the giant billboard on the side of the highway that reads ‘9 out of 10 Broncos are employed quickly, working in their fields in jobs they like,’" says chemical engineering student Emily Principe. It’s a statement that resonates with Principe and is just one reason she was drawn to Western Michigan University.

“WMU wants students to succeed,” explains Principe on her decision to transfer to WMU from Macomb County Community College where she started her engineering studies. “There are so many student organizations that students can join as well as numerous career fairs year-round. Aside from that, the University is just right for me in size; the campus and classrooms aren't too big, and they aren’t too small.”

Principe says a chemical engineering degree is a means to her career in the food or beauty industry. Learning that chemical engineering impacts daily life--from the production of the cereal and toothpaste to helping supply the fuel for cars and furnaces to producing electricity for lighting--helped Principe confidently choose her path.

To realize her career, Principe is busy soaking up all that college has to offer and has participated in student organizations, lab research and internships. 

She’s a leader in two student organizations—serving as treasurer and Multicultural Awards Coordinator in the WMU Society of Women Engineers and working as senator in the Western Student Association—honing skills in financial planning, event coordination and developing proposals.

To gain some experience using various types of lab equipment, Principe worked in the biology department and in Biotechnology Research lab, or Biomolecular Engineering Lab. 

“The purpose of getting involved in the lab was to practice lab skills and use advance engineering equipment,” says Principe of these projects. “I do lots of textbook reading and lots of math problems inside the classroom and participating in research outside the classroom allowed me to have the chance to handle equipment.”

With two internships completed already, Principe is developing the professional work experience that builds careers. 

“My first internship was working with paper and my second internship was working with food," she sayd. “These are two different categories and they come with their own technical language, processes, and safety requirements. I had to train my brain to use the correct terminology and know the different safety procedures.”

As an engineering intern at Nestle Gerber, she coordinated an industrial trial for a new food product and collected and analyzed pilot plant data, among other duties. As a process engineer at Verso Corporation, she supervised industrial trials for new chemicals, trained employees on new processes and analyzed and evaluated data.

“My degree is so diverse that I am able to work in the food industry, paper industry, oil, energy or pharmaceuticals,” says Principe of her experiences so far. “The possibilities are endless, and that’s the exciting part about it.”

Principe anticipates graduating fall semester 2023. After college, she will pursue a project management certificate and a certificate related to leadership. “I believe taking this route will help me get to the director’s position that I very much desire,” explains Principe. “In the long run, I hope to work in the food or beauty industry.”

Well on her way to a career she loves, Principe is content with the opportunities she has obtained through attending WMU career fairs. “Who knows, maybe summer 2023 I will get an internship in the oil industry. We’ll see where life takes me.” 

Find out where life takes Principe by following her on LinkedIn.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.