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Dr. Tim Barckholtz

Profession/Title: Chemist/ Chemical Engineer

Business/Company Name: ExxonMobil

Date of Interview: 10/23/20

Assessment: 

        My very first interview was with Tim Barckholtz, a lead chemist/ chemical engineer at ExxonMobil working on producing ways to decrease carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. Going into the interview, I was quite nervous considering that this was the first interview I was going to do in ISM and I wanted so badly to make a good impression on this successful engineer. I hoped to learn more about the path I was going to take through college and the start of my career and understand what my life may look like as I entered the chemical engineering field. I always imagined that being a chemical engineer in industry would be an invigorating and exciting job so my biggest hope through the interview was to be inspired and excited about my prospective field. 

        We began by discussing his experiences in college and the degree he chose to pursue and how that has helped him in his career. Dr. Barckholtz has a PhD in Chemistry, from The Ohio State University. While he has been able to turn this degree into a career in chemical engineering, he suggested that I pursue a bachelor's and master's degree in chemical engineering because it will allow me to go farther in the field and have more abilities to move through various jobs. I found that this bit of information solidified my decision to pursue an engineering degree and has definitely convinced me to seriously consider a master’s degree. 

        One of the major questions I had for Dr. Barckholtz was what kind of traits or characteristics does he appreciate in a coworker or look for in a prospective employee. He explained that one of the most important things to him is the ability for a person to communicate with those around him. The chemical engineering field is all about collaboration and teamwork, which requires significant communication, and if this cannot be achieved well it makes completing the task at hand quite difficult. Dr. Barckholtz did mention something interesting when he said that he wished he had taken some psychology courses in college, so that he would be better prepared to communicate and work with people on a daily basis. I found this piece of advice quite interesting. I had never really considered the idea that an engineer might benefit from some experience or knowledge of human psychology. This made me curious if these kinds of communication skills were built into the engineering college curriculum or if this was something I should pursue on my own. This information truly shocked me and has caused me to really think about the importance of communication in my everyday life. 

        We then discussed how Dr. Barckholtz and his team work on a daily basis. The team works on using fuel cells to create a device to place over top of smokestacks from factories that will filter out the harmful carbon dioxide, release the rest of the semi harmless gases and put the carbon dioxide underground in order to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While he was explaining all of the concepts and the countless hours of research put into this project, I found myself extremely intrigued by what he was working on. I could almost picture myself in a lab finding ways to implement this product and truly work to make an impact. Not only did Dr. Barckholtz explain this project to me but he even used items in his home office to show me how exactly this device he was creating would work. I really appreciated him taking the time to explain the science behind what he was doing and it made me want to know more around the subject. I am planning on doing some research on this subject in order to gain a better understanding because his explanations were so interesting. 

        I was definitely nervous going into the interview, but after coming out I found myself inspired to continue down the career path I was headed and find out more about what my future might look like. There was not one moment in the interview where I found myself disinterested about the topics being discussed which led me to believe that not only did I enjoy speaking with this professional, but I also enjoyed the content we were discussing. I am motivated to continue research into this intriguing field and am looking forward to future research interviews.

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