Even before deciding on a specific major for my career, I already knew which university I would like to attend: The National University of Colombia. The National University of Colombia was and has been one of the most prestigious universities in Colombia for STEM education, so, I took my admission exam for their chemical engineering program and sadly, I was not admitted. I was completely devastated by this; however, my family and friends supported me and help me understand how difficult the admission process was with thousands of people taking the exam for the same major and with only 1% of them being admitted. This failure was my driving force to continue my journey and prepare better in a way that I was able to be admitted in the next term.
Being in chemical engineering was an incredible experience for me, I met amazing teachers and classmates, I took very interesting and insightful classes and it was a great platform for developing my passion for doing research. For my bachelor’s degree thesis, I had the opportunity to come to the United States to conduct my research on chemical inhibitors for preventing internal corrosion in oil and gas pipelines in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering at The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. This experience strengthened my love for doing research and my desire for pursuing graduate studies. I decided then to move to the US to start my master’s program in chemical engineering at The University of Akron. I have to admit that it was a difficult decision leaving my family and coming alone to another country but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences, both personally and professionally, and I do not have any doubt that it has been one of the best decisions of my life.
Up to this point, it seemed that I would become a scientist in chemical engineering, however, after a year of being in chemical engineering, another opportunity appeared in my career: Materials Science and Engineering. I transferred to Texas A&M University where I did my master’s and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering focused on designing coating technologies and magnesium alloys with enhanced mechanical and corrosion resistance properties. Once again, this was a tough decision; switching careers, moving to another city and essentially, start all over again. Nevertheless, this was another of those best decisions in my life, I love materials science and bring me joy every time that I learn something new about it.
My background in materials science and engineering brought me to where I am today, working at Dow as a senior research specialist in the product development team of advanced silicone elastomers. With less than a year since I started, my experience at Dow and in my current role has been amazing surrounded by an exceptional team and working together to develop high quality products that bring value to people and our planet. This entire journey of becoming a materials scientist has been a compilation of successes, failures and challenges but most importantly, it has been possible thanks to the help and support of my family, friends, colleagues and mentors and it is beyond words to express how grateful I am to all of them. I am excited to continue with this journey in materials science and to become a mentor for younger STEM generations.