For Hagen Childers, a fourth-year chemical engineering student, it was the multitude of opportunities that drew her to her degree program. From biomedical engineering research to internship with Flour-BWXT in nuclear criticality safety, Childers quickly discovered that chemical engineering was at the intersection of many technical disciplines, giving him the flexibility to explore a variety of his interests.
“Chemical engineering is the crucible of all fields of engineering because you learn so much. You have so much technical knowledge that you can apply to any field you choose,” Childers said.
It has always been important for Childers to have varied experiences during her college career, so she can explore all of her interests. His involvement in student organizations is, in many ways, his trademark. She is a Learning Community Leader, Vice President of Engineering Ambassadors, Past President of the Biomedical Engineering Society, and Vice President of LivePositive. She is also involved with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Society of Women in Engineering, Puzzle Pieces, Habitat for Humanity, and Robe Leadership Institute. Finally, she served as team leader of WERC’s environmental design team, winning first place in the national competition in the spring of 2022. This varied involvement has allowed Childers to build confidence, explore career paths and to develop their CV.
In addition to her student involvement, Childers has engaged in undergraduate research, showcasing the engineering principles of corneal replacement at Student Expo 2022.
“During the first three years, I really enjoyed biomedical engineering. I did some research with Dr. Burdick and loved everything I learned there. When I interned at Flour-BWXT in Piketon, I fell in love with it even more,” Childers said.
During the summer, Childers worked in the area of nuclear criticality safety. Flour-BWXT is a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy, which exposed Childers to vital radiation safety information, enabling him to write critical documentation, conduct statistical analysis, and ultimately characterize a building for plant deactivation.
“When they deactivate a building, they will remove most of the equipment, so that it can be safely demolished. They try to get rid of as much contamination as possible and make the area as clean and safe as possible. grew up around [the plant] also, so it means a lot to help my home community,” Childers said.
Community has always been an important part of what makes Childers tick. Her student involvement schedule is busy enough that when she misses meetings, she contacts the organization’s leadership to see what she missed and how she can get involved in the next service project. As a leader of several student organizations herself, Childers sees the value in building community within the organization.
“At the Biomedical Engineering Society, we host networking events to make industry connections and organize professional development opportunities, like resume building and mock interviews. It was super fun in the past, but sometimes we just need to relax, that’s why we also have game nights and other social events,” Childers said.
This love for community support and building is part of what connected Childers to Flour-BWXT. The company is helping to decontaminate and decommission the Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant, which has a direct impact on the environmental health of its home community.
After completing his summer internship with Flour-BWXT, Childers was offered a part-time job to continue his work with the company throughout the school year. Once graduated, Childers hopes to stay in this industry to maximize all the experiences she has accumulated while pursuing her studies in chemical engineering.