Engineer of the Month Takes the Road Less Traveled

By:    Staci Jones
Date: June 1, 2018

June Engineer of the Month, Fiona Shaw, pursued her love for chemical engineering and while on international co-op she discovered a new passion—for traveling.  

Fiona Shaw

Growing up in the Cincinnati area and attending Sycamore High School, June Engineer of the Month, Fiona Shaw, knew early on that the University of Cincinnati (UC) was a good fit for her to pursue undergraduate studies.

During her senior year of high school, Fiona decided to major in chemical engineering.  Her love for chemistry also led her to pursue a minor in the subject. She decided to take the engineering route due to what she refers to as the “practicality” of the field.

 “I've been happy about my decision ever since!” said Fiona.

Fiona regards creating her class schedules as one of the most challenging aspects of being a student. She says that her initial transition into the professional environment—through the cooperative education (co-op) program—as only a sophomore in college was also challenging.

“Working and learning more about being in a manufacturing environment definitely helped boost my confidence though, and I felt much more comfortable in my later co-op semesters,” said Fiona.

Fiona completed three co-op rotations at the Shepherd Color Company in West Chester, OH as a process engineering co-op. She states that it was a valuable learning experience, and that she gained most of her process engineering knowledge from this rotation.

“It was also my first co-op, so I worked a lot on developing my professional personality and getting more comfortable with a manufacturing environment, which entailed working with practically all men,” said Fiona.  

Evonik Industries in Hanau, Germany is where she spent her last few co-op rotations as a Verfahrenstechnik Praktikantin (process engineering intern). She states that the rotation was a fantastic experience for her. While there, she performed computational fluid dynamics.

“One of my main takeaways from that experience was the German language I picked up. I went over as part of the international co-op program here at UC, and beforehand we had to complete a six-week intensive language course,” said Fiona. “Since I only spoke in German for the most part while I was over there, though, I feel like my language skills improved a lot.”

She also feels that the opportunity allowed her to develop leadership skills as she led a young professional group that met every other week while she was in Hanau.

Fiona regards many of her best college memories as those she experienced in Germany, “I was able to travel a lot on the weekends, so I got to see a lot of Europe that way.”

“I've also found great friends in and outside of my major who have definitely helped me get through classes and have made my years here an exciting time,” stated Fiona when speaking on her best campus memories.

Some of her other favorite campus memories include the opportunities to supplement her learning, such as the semester of research that she did after her freshman year through the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) research grant, her job as a peer teacher’s assistant for the Engineering Models classes, and her co-op rotations in general.

Her proudest achievement is maintaining a 3.8 grade point average.

For future CEAS students, Fiona advises, “I would encourage students to try to find the connections between school and co-op. On the job, I found myself remembering obscure things from lectures that I didn't think would have applications in the real world, but ended up being very helpful.”

Fiona believes that staying motivated through classes is much easier when you can think back to applications that it could pertain to in the real world.

“I believe that my major has prepared me for jobs that require critical thinking and advanced technical knowledge, but is also very flexible,” stated Fiona.

Fiona graduated during this past spring commencement and is currently on the job market. She is concentrating in the Cincinnati area, but is also flexible to being somewhere else in the United States or abroad.

The College of Engineering and Applied Science congratulates Fiona Shaw on her outstanding achievements thus far and as the June Engineer of the Month.

Select for previous Engineers of the Month.