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Alumni Notes

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Degree Year: 2014

Brandon Liu (Degree(s): BS)

  •  Currently Manufacturing Engineer at SpaceX with "Build it, test it, fly it" responsibilities for stage separation and booster recovery mechanisms.
  • Spent 2 years at Air Products as a process engineer for chemicals and liquefied natural gas applications. 

Rocketry's dirtiest secret is that it is 90% plumbing. However, that's not the only reason why I feel so qualified for my job at SpaceX. Chemical Engineers are more than just plumbers, it turns out. I say this in every interview I have, "studying Chemical Engineering has given me one, core skill set. That is, the ability to decipher complex systems, string them into a series of smaller, more digestible parts, and identify key opportunities for iterative improvements."

In my career, I have found that time and time again, Cornell engineering alumni are by far the sharpest and most impressive. This isn't that surprising because our biggest problem is that "no," or "impossible," or "can't be done" is not in our vocabulary. We are seeking out the world's toughest problems and we're delivering solutions. This tenacity leads to recognition, which leads to responsibility. Cornell alumni are truly tomorrow's leaders.

Degree Year: 2013

Chidanand Balaji (Degree(s): BS)

I am currently the Associate Brand Manager on the Bounce dryer sheet brand at P&G. Bounce is a $300 Million dollar brand in North America.

Prior to this role, I spent 3 years in manufacturing at the Family Care Mehoopany plant in North east Pennsylvania. I was a Process Engineer on Bounty paper machines and then a Machine leader for a Charmin Ultra Strong paper machine. My paper machine produced all the toilet paper for Canada and all of the East coast.

Degree Year: 2012

Corey Letcher (Degree(s): BS)

I recently left Schlumberger after 3 years as a field engineer to become and account manager for the Trane company in New York City.  While with Schlumberger I had the opportunity to travel the world and work in two very different places in the US.  It was an extremely valuable experience but after the oil and gas industry started to suffer from the global oil glut, I found it was time to start searching for a new career path, esoecially one that would allow me to be a little more stationary and start to build a family.  I got married in September of 2015 and a few weeks later began with the Trane company.  My focus now is developing and focussing on energy management and conservation project and helping customers manage their costs more effectively.  I am excited about the opportunity and for what the future holds!

Degree Year: 2011

Joshua Velson (Degree(s): MEng)

Joshua Velson (MEng '11) of Nexant Consulting is featured in Conference Daily published by HYDROCARBON PROCESSING® March 2014. The article titled, "Coal re-emerges as a primary petrochemical feedstock," begins as follows: 

Coal was, historically, a critical resource in the infantry of the organic chemical industry. Among many other applications, coal tar provided aromatics, and coal syngas was used for ammonia and methanol production. The invention of the electric-arc furnace allowed coal-based calcium carbide to unleash a wealth of early acetylene-based production of butadiene, vinyl acetate, vinyl chloride, and acetaldehyde.

To read the full article visit:

Degree Year: 2010

Jouha Min (Degree(s): BS)

Jouha Min has recieved her Masters in Chemical Engineering Practices from MIT in September 2012, and is in the process of getting her Ph.D., also from MIT. She has worked at BP Chemicals in Hull, U.K. and General Mills for a semester as part of her Masters program. Her thesis project is on designing a smart self-assembly platform (namely layer-by-layer [LBL] assembly) for delivering multiple theraputic agents in a controlled manner. SHe is also trying to develop a mathematical model for controlling and predicting the relase behavior from the system using her knowledge of polymer physics and transport, knowledge she attributes to her time spent as an undergraduate working in the Clancy Group.

Christina Chan Lu (Degree(s): BS, MEng)

I've been working in the financial industry in business analysis and project managrment area ever since graduating from Cornell with both a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and master of engineering in engineering management. i'd be happy to connect with any CHEME ever interested in pursuing the same route and learn how to apply what they learn in CHEME in finance, please reach out to me. I'd also be interested in helping out the interviewing process with prospective candidates during college application process. Thanks 

Degree Year: 2008

Rami Madadin (Degree(s): MEng)

Rami Madadin, an Operation Manager of polyethylene plant in Arabian Petrochemical Company (SABIC Affiliate), and his team has celebrated the combined production of one million metric tons of polyethylene with a cake-cutting ceremony at its facilities on January 14, 2013.  This production level is the highest since the startup of the plant in 2004.

This event was covered and recognized on SABIC level across the globe.

Degree Year: 2007

Jennifer Cipolla (Degree(s): BS)

Currently the site leader for GE's new Center for Additive Technology Advancement, located in Pittsburgh, PA.

Michael Strenk (Degree(s): BS)

Despite the great inertia against organizational movement, I was able to change roles early last year. Just as I was considering the possibility of jumping ship to Caltex in the spring, I was offered a new job on the BP Coke Marketing team located just down the road from the refinery [in Carson, CA] in Huntington Beach, CA. BP has a group of a dozen people in this satellite office (complete with pilot and analytical labs) marketing all of its worldwide petroleum coke product. 

The vast majority of the work is done on the calcined coke side of things, of which BP is a major global player (currently ranked third in the western world in production behind wholesalers Oxbox and RainCII).

My refinery, the Carson Refinery, has an associated petcoke calciner which is also included in the divestment, and I was brought in to support all things technical for the new three-person team solely dedicated to the Carson refinery; all three of us are still ring-fenced (we will not be staying with BP). My background as the process engineer for the refinery's two coker units made me a good fit. In this role, I basically cover anything the logistics guy and my manager (who handles the sales and finance side) don't: I am on the refinery crude purchase team and an specifically responsible for maintaining coke (both green and calcined) quality while also trying to maximize refinery crude opportunities/margin; I own and maintain the coke quality model, which predicts coke properties from crude assay data; I serve as a technical resource to the refinery's current coker process engineer (my replacement) and the calciner's process engineer; I provide yield and quality predictions to the other two guys on my team so they know what and when to sell. The most exciting part of my role is that I am the technical contact for our aluminium smelting customers.

I regularly call and visit our worldwide aluminium smelting customers to discuss and troubleshoot any percieved problems with our product. The travel is fun for me right now: in the lat few months, I was able to travel to Switzerland and Brazil, and this year I plan to travel to Australia and Dubai. While I am far from an expert, I am well-versed in the aluminium smelting process now. THe frequent technical conversations with our customers regarding their process and my product is a key part of our value proposition, something which the Chinese do not offer. It's neat, it's different, and the hours are much better than my process engineering days. 

Owen Shieh (Degree(s): BS)

Cornell University, B.S. Atmospheric Science 2007
University of Oklahoma, M.S. Meteorology 2010
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Ph.D. Meteorology 2014 (expected)
I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  I am researching ways to improve hurricane and typhoon intensity forecasts, using analyses of storm structure and large-scale environmental parameters to better understand the phase space between the two sets of conditions. We collaborate with NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, HI to improve Pacific Command AOR tropical cyclone forecasts for the U.S. Navy and Air Force.
My experience at Cornell, particularly its emphasis on combining academic rigor with extracurricular pursuits, successfully prepared me for graduate school and for leadership in national professional societies.  I had the opportunity to serve as Co-President of the Cornell Chapter of the American Meteorological Society and received the Father James B. Macelwane Award by the AMS.  Outside the classroom I was a Drill Instructor and played trumpet in the Cornell Big Red Marching Band.
Since 2011, I have been the National Co-Chair of the AMS Student Conference, and was recently appointed to the AMS Board for Operational Government Meteorologists where I will serve in the year 2013.