L’Oreal Co-Op Beyond Expectation

By: Liz Daubenmire

Four UC students gain unparalleled experience from their co-op placement at L’Oreal then win first place at the L’Oreal Beauty Shakers Competition.

Group Photo of winning UC Co-op team, Ray Cook, Gina Gianfagna, Stephanie Horvath, and Ryan Thomas

Group Photo of winning UC Co-op team, Ray Cook, Gina Gianfagna, Stephanie Horvath, and Ryan Thomas

The winning four, Ray Cook, Gina Gianfagna, Stephanie Horvath, and Ryan Thomas are still buzzing with excitement weeks after winning the L’Oreal Out of the Box Beauty Shakers Competition.  “It still really feels unreal that we won,” says team member Ryan Thomas. 

The competition included 150 co-op students and interns. Teams were challenged to come up with a project that was out of the box, sustainable and excellent.  UC student Gina says, “Our goal was to lower a plant's electrical consumption.”

Ryan further explains, “The idea for the Out of the Box Beauty Shakers Competition was Hydraulic Regenerative Braking. This system would capture the lost energy during the braking of the processing mixers and agitators inside the tanks...We got the idea from the research in hybrid cars. Hydraulic regenerative braking is currently being implemented on a small scale in the automotive market. That's why our idea was out of the box, it applies this system in an industrial setting which could provide large gains in energy savings- something marketable to all companies.”

New York City view from L'Oreal office

New York City view from L'Oreal office

The University of Cincinnati team was one of three selected as finalists in the competition. Finalists were flown to New York City to present their idea to the L'Oreal Corporate Human Resources team, as well as Jerome Tixier, executive vice-president of Human Resources L'Oreal Worldwide.

The four students worked independently across three L’Oreal plants in the US and arrived as a united team to win the competition in NYC.  As they reflected on their accomplishments each student pointed to the L’Oreal Company as a main contributor to their growth. 

Team member Stephanie says, “L'Oreal is a very environmentally conscious company and has established a set of goals to reduce our global footprint by 2020, one of which includes reducing our CO2 emissions by 60%.  The company's commitment inspired us to create a project that would bring us one step closer to that goal.”

Not only is L’Oreal environmentally friendly, it’s also a great place to work.  While one might assume engineers working for L’Oreal come from a chemical engineering background, working with the actual products, these four students prove that mechanical engineers can find a place of their own.  The robust machines are always in need of maintaining and innovative ways to conserve energy, keeping the four students busy at the beauty product company.

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Ryan, who has done all 5 co-op rotations with L'Oreal says, “It truly is an amazing company. The people and the culture are amazing.”  The ever-changing products keep his work at L’Oreal exciting and offer a creative outlet.  Ryan has found extreme value in his co-op placement.  “In my rotations at L'Oreal, I have really been able to see how the business and corporate world works, something not available in the classroom. "This has been extremely impactful for me because it gives me a new prospective in the class room..."

UC Students in NYC

UC Students in NYC

Ray also sees the impact of his time with L’Oreal.  “My time with L’Oreal has impacted my experiences in the classroom tremendously.  I have been able to enhance transferable skills such as communication, problem solving, critical thinking, interpersonal, research, and organizational skills.  All of these skills have helped me function well with classmates on team projects as well as interact and communicate with professors efficiently and professionally.”

UC’s new engineering curriculum is designed to further engrain the soft skills learned in co-op.  Interpersonal communication is key for researchers who work in multiple disciplines, and even more so for those wanting to work in the industry. 

Stephanie has found similar benefits in working for L’Oreal as she explains her growth since joining the company.  “A big reason why I chose UC was for the co-op program because I thought it would be a great way to gain work experience and get a better idea of what I wanted to do after I graduate.”  She goes on to say, “L'Oreal does a great job of rotating you through different departments so that you are able to get different perspectives in a manufacturing environment.  They also give you a lot of responsibility in terms of the projects that you work on which I think is crucial in developing communication, organization, and networking skills.

With the big competition win still fresh in their minds, these four students don’t miss a beat in tying it all back to their awesome co-op employer.  The College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) is known for its cooperative education program in which Ray, Ryan, Stephanie, and Gina are all surpassing expectations. 

Equipping it’s students with life changing co-op opportunities and chances to win national competitions, CEAS has once again proven to be a strong feeder into industry jobs.  This top-notch education is sure to make employers tell engineering students the job is theirs, as L’Oreal would say, “Because You’re Worth It.”