Try, Then Try Again

By:       Staci Jones
Date:    December 1, 2017

Engineering had not always been the career that Sam Locke hoped to pursue, but now– as a 4.0 Chemical Engineering senior and December Engineer of the Month– Sam looks to solve the world's most difficult challenges using his skills in chemistry.  

Sam Locke

“I loved the University of Cincinnati as I was walking around during my first visit, and I still love it now,” said December Engineer of the Month, Samuel Locke, as he reflected on UC’s “at-home” atmosphere that led him to enrolling at the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS).

Engineering had not always been the career that Locke hoped to pursue, but a push from his grandmother led him to what he feels was one of his best decisions.

“My grandma didn’t want me to limit myself. She told me that she knew I had what it takes to be an engineer,” said Locke, “I am very glad that she pushed me into a major that I did not think I would thrive in. Now I love chemical engineering, and I would not be here today if it had not been for my grandma challenging me.”

Due to the fact that Locke had a different career in mind, he states that his largest challenges were within his first semesters of pursing engineering. “I felt that I was less academically prepared for my major than a lot of my peers. I found out early on that I would have to put in a lot more effort in order to perform at the same level,” said Locke.

Once he learned to problem solve within his engineering classes, he stated that another issue appeared once leaving the classroom context.

“Problems in classes always have a clear solution, but the real world does not work like that,” said Locke when speaking on his transition to cooperative education (co-op) rounds. “I had to learn to brainstorm with my colleagues and make a lot of educated guesses in order to solve many problems.”

All five of Locke’s co-op rotations were completed with the BASF Corporation.

He reflects on his experience at BASF, “I am blessed to have worked for such an influential and diverse company. I have learned so much about the chemical industry and how things work in a production setting, but I also learned many things about myself. I learned that I am capable of being a chemical engineer and I learned that I am capable of solving complex, real-world engineering problems that often times do not have a clear solution.”

Locke considers his academic best to be his 4.0 GPA. “There was a time during my second semester of my freshman year where I seriously considered changing majors. I did not think that I had it in me to finish, and I seriously wondered if it would be worth it to try and finish the program,” said Locke, “Since that time, I have not only been able to pass my classes, but I have been able to maintain all A's.”

He states that he would not have achieved such an accomplishment had it not been for his friends who help him balance classes, co-op and social life, and keep him on track. Locke recommends that fellow students find a diverse group of friends to work with throughout their collegiate career in order to avoid burnout. Where one of his friends helps him to stay organized, another helps to find the fun in everything.

“Engineers are not meant to work alone,” said Locke, “find a team and help each other. That is the only way I have been able to make it this far.”

The things that Locke loves most about his major are the future implications of chemical engineering. “We are facing some very difficult times in the future: increasing and aging population, the need for sustainable energy, limited freshwater supply, limited food, and other issues,” said Locke, “All of these problems are impacted by chemistry. I like that I will be able to use the skills that I have learned in order to help solve some problems that our world will be facing.”  

Upon graduating in 2018, Locke hopes to enter a production role in the chemical engineering industry. He has also been working on a side business for hydroponics and his end goal is to be able to provide cheap fresh fruits and vegetables to people in the city that might not have access to such foods.

Locke acknowledges that the problems ahead will be difficult, but states, “As long as we work together, I am confident that we will be able to find solutions.”

The College of Engineering and Applied Science congratulates Sam Locke on his outstanding achievements thus far and as the December Engineer of the Month.

Select for previous Engineers of the Month.