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Monument’s Remarkable Interns Drive Their Careers and the Company’s Future Forward
August 18th, 2018
In August, La’Breece Perry wrapped up his third co-op rotation at Monument’s Brandenburg site. And just as before, he’s walking away with a successful project under his belt – and months of hand-on learning that will help guide his path both academically and professionally.
“Other companies may have internship opportunities for students interested in the specialty chemical industry, but Monument stands out from the crowd because our co-ops and interns don’t work on the sidelines,” said Rachel Flaherty, Process Safety Leader, Brandenburg. “They work side-by-side with our team – tackling real challenges and designing real solutions that make a difference for our site and our customers.”
And because the students play a critical role in those solutions, Rachel (who helps oversee Brandenburg’s co-op and internship program) is quick to point out that the learnings and the benefits are a two-way street when it comes to the relationship between Monument and the students.
“The students bring fresh sets of eyes and insights to the challenges we face,” said Rachel. “They ask questions that can lead us in a different direction from the way we usually do things – which can spark out-of-the-box ideas. And they sometimes connect what they’ve learned in textbooks to a particular challenge – and remind us that ‘going back to basics’ can often help identify the best solutions.”
A Rising Star in Kentucky
During his most recent rotation at Brandenburg, La’Breece – a student at the University of Louisville – worked in Process Safety, where he led an EO temperature study to ensure the alarm thresholds on the storage tanks were set to the correct levels.
“I created a spreadsheet that tracked real-world unloading data to better understand all of the variables,” said La’Breece. “I compared this data to worst case scenarios – and was able to prove that the alarm thresholds were exactly where they needed to be.”
In his very first rotation with Monument, La’Breece managed a project aimed at solving a high-water concentration in a critical final product. The Monument team had assumed the problem was occurring in the finishing tower, but La’Breece proved through his investigations and data that the issue was occurring before that – eventually identifying the reboiler on the preceding tower as the culprit. The team made a series of repairs to the reboiler – which eliminated the high-water issue completely.
“I really enjoyed the high-water project because it allowed me to put things I was learning in school, such as mass balance studies, to practical use,” said La’Breece. “I also love that I was able to make a real difference! The identification of the issue, as well as the fixes to the reboiler, meant the final product could again be used in food-grade applications – a win for both Monument and customers.”
Top Talent at Texas
Monument’s bright batch of interns and co-ops at the Houston site are making a similar impact. Ryan Reyna, for example – a first-time Monument intern from Texas Tech University – helped design plans for a significant storage capacity increase at the site.
“We figured out a way to free up three pumps and three storage tanks by coming up with a solution that would enable us to feed a particular set of reactors from anywhere at the site,” said Ryan. “Because of the complexity of the project, I needed to work with people in every function at the site – and I personally helped oversee a broad range of activities – everything from designing the new lines, to submitting the capital request, to helping with the MOC (management of change). I wore a lot of hats – and got to talk with a lot of people who also wear a lot of hats!”
Unique Experiences – Bright Futures
La’Breece, Ryan, and Monument’s other remarkable interns have left a lasting mark on Monument, and their experiences at Monument, in turn, have helped sharpen their skills and offered plenty of real-world experiences that they will carry with them back to the classroom – and into their promising careers.
“I’m still in the process of exploring industries and career paths, and this internship with Monument really opened my eyes to the exciting possibilities in the specialty chemical industry,” said Kelly Boening, another first-time Monument intern from Texas A&M University. “I picked Monument in particular because I wanted to do more than just ‘busy work.’ I wanted to be in the field with other engineers – learning about what they do and how I can contribute – and that’s exactly what I did here!”
“My learning extended well beyond the engineering work,” added La’Breece. “Because I partnered with such a broad range of people and witnessed many aspects of life within Monument, I was able to boost my overall leadership skills as well – such as team communications, time management, and a better understanding best practices in corporate sustainability.
“Most importantly, I was part of the team – not just a temporary bystander. And I know that because of these immersive experiences, I’ll be a better (and smarter!) team member no matter where my future takes me.”