Student Profile: Allison Melch

Allison, who is enrolled in the EUROTECH program, will earn two degrees when she graduates in May ’11: a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.A. in German. She is contemplating a career in international pharmaceuticals and personal care products, with a possible interlude in the Peace Corps or a similar relief organization following graduation.

High School
Fitch Senior High School, Groton, CT

Why Engineering?
“I was inspired to pursue engineering by my father, who is a mechanical engineer. He was always teaching me things. He taught me to read at an early age, and while I was growing up he built models with me: submarines, ships and cars-you name it. We also went mountain biking every weekend, and over time he taught me how to fix my bike. He was always very supportive of my interests and encouraged me to be inquisitive about how things worked. In this way, he really opened me up to the technical world. My eldest sister is also an engineer, which also kept me aware of the possibilities upon graduating from high school.

One of my most important role models is UConn engineering alumna Kimberly Ozkan-Bal (B.S., ChE and MSE ’03) of Unilever. I admire her greatly and appreciate the numerous opportunities she has opened up for me. I first met Kim as a BRIDGE student during the summer before starting at UConn, when our group toured Unilever. The very next spring I signed up to “shadow” her for a day. There I had the opportunity to work alongside her in the pilot plant, which is uncommon for non-employees. It was really neat because when I was hired as an intern the next summer, part of my project was based off of the research I witnessed as a shadower. The other part of my project was to design and develop a database that would facilitate better sharing of Dove product data between R&D and the operations facilities in the U.S., Germany and Brazil. I also had the opportunity to observe a focus group as they discussed some prospective new formulations. It was very interesting to hear the language they used to describe the product and how they applied it. Some observed seemingly trivial things such as the sound of the cap as the bottle was opened.”

Why UConn?
“I originally intended to enroll at WPI; however, UConn has made me realize just how unhappy I would have been there. I love that UConn is such a big school and so the possibilities are endless. I love the wide range of applications of my EUROTECH degree program. Besides being able to earn two degrees simultaneously, I’m also enrolled in the newly launched Entrepreneurship Senior Design experience. I am taking the first of the two required entrepreneurship courses, Opportunity Generation, in the School of Business this term, and I’ll take the Venture Planning course next year. I especially love the expansive range of extracurricular activates-This weekend I went on a trip to New York with the outing club, during which we rappelled down a 120′ cliff in order to enter an old mine…where else can you do that?!

UConn offers so many interesting opportunities. Last week in my Opportunity Generation class, we had two fascinating speakers, Kevin Bouley, CEO of Nerac, Inc. in Tolland and Luke Weinstein, Director of the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation’s Innovation Accelerator. We also had a guest speaker in my German class, Rainer Simon, a famed East German film director who spoke (in German) with us about his work. I feel that these types of opportunities, although unique, are common here at UConn. Interesting things are going on all the time.”

Beyond Academics
“I have been a volunteer for Multiply Your Options and other K-12 outreach activities organized by the Undergraduate Engineering office, and I participate in intramural volleyball and soccer. This year, I’m President of the Society of Women Engineers student chapter. We have about 120 members. I always try to schedule a fun social activity at our meetings to encourage members to get to know one another; networking is SO crucial as a student in engineering. At one meeting we held a paper airplane contest, with teams organized by discipline. The Mechanical Engineering team won by default, only after a member of the leading Computer Science team accidentally stepped out of bounds. We also did tie dying social with Phi Sigma Rho, and we had a resume-writing workshop.”

Categories: chemical engineering, emagination, Student Profile, Student Profiles