Hi, my name is Ellie, and I’m studying for an integrated master’s in mechanical engineering at Loughborough University in the UK.
During my studies I completed an industrial placement year with the UNITECH program, which is a network of students, technical universities, and corporate partners, one of which is Evonik.
Initially, I ruled out Evonik as I thought a specialty chemicals company would not offer the opportunities I was looking for with my mechanical background. I could not be more wrong! After interviewing with the Process Technology and Engineering department, I found a summer internship within the Digital Process Technologies department part of which is located in Hanau, Germany.
During my internship I worked on a system-wide optimization, which in my case involved the development of a site-wide Verbund dashboard for an intermediate product network at a site of Evonik. I analysed tank level data, programmed predicted behavior on MATLAB, and created SVG’s (scalable vector graphics) to model production networks. I then presented these on a website using HTML code.
The programming tasks were in MATLAB; a language I had already encountered during my studies. But unlike in my studies I had to adapt to deal with ‘imperfect’ real-time data; with noise, anomalies, and missing values. This allowed me to develop my skills even further and gave me more practical experience.
I received a lot of freedom and flexibility in my work to be artistic with my graphic design and coding, and to test my capabilities and challenge myself before refining my work. I really liked this attitude and I felt learning and having a deeper understanding were highly valued throughout.
Unfortunately, my process joining Evonik was not the smoothest. There were numerous visa issues and delays when trying to get a permit to work in Germany from the UK. This meant that I had to complete my first 2 weeks of work remotely before I could come to Germany. However, through good communication and regular MS Teams meetings with my supervisor I was able to get started right away on relevant work using non-confidential simulated data on MATLAB and start practicing with Inkscape and HTML code. This meant as soon as I arrived on the site I already had a basic training and foundations of my dashboard set up.
From a UNITECHER’S perspective I felt strong connections to this network throughout my time at Evonik, and incredibly lucky with the opportunities and support I had. One particular experience I enjoyed was being invited to tour Evonik’s largest production location: the Marl chemical park. Here we received a tour of the site, with an in depth look into cell membranes in the fluid processing department pilot plants, as well as a live demonstration of Evonik’s autonomous inspection robot “Spot”. Finally, to complete the day we visited the TPM (Total Productive Management) Academy, where we had a brief look at the workshop on how to structure the workplace more efficiency to reduce losses and waste.
We were also invited to attend the ACHEMA 2022 event in Frankfurt alongside other UNITECH students, to visit Evonik’s booth which I was especially excited to attend.
Overall, I have felt a really positive attitude towards students and great company culture, whilst being at Evonik which I feel is reflected in the large number of interns I am surrounded by in my department. There is a strong sense of community here and I have really enjoyed working in the student rooms alongside like-minded students from such diverse cultural backgrounds. I would definitely recommend an internship with Evonik and I would consider reapplying with the company after I graduate.
I would also like to say a special thanks to my technical supervisors in Marl and my onsite supervisor in Hanau for continued support throughout and for making the internship such a positive experience.
On the students@Evonik blog, students, who work at Evonik, share their experiences about life and work in the company.