Devon Santos Joins The Manufacturing Team

January 19th, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA – Purolite is excited to welcome Devon Santos, from Widener University, to our Co-op program. Devon, who majors in Mechanical Engineering, will assist in projects at the plant as Mechanical Engineer Co-op, reporting to Les Confer, Senior Process Engineer. Devon will be with Purolite from January to August, spending a total of 8 months working in the plant.

Devon first found Purolite when Les reached out to him by email, through Widener’s co-op program. Devon felt that Purolite would provide the most experience, independent work, and responsibility of all the offers he received.

Devon will complete 10 mechanical engineering projects by the end of his Co-op cycle in August. Many of these projects are related to updating the plant’s equipment and processes, which requires him to research the design of these systems, calculate and create new plans, and reach out to third-party contractors to coordinate these installations.

“I am surprised by how many of the projects I am working on directly correlate to what I am learning about in my classes. For example, I’ve been working with thermodynamics and fluid mechanics in the plant, which is exactly what my class has been covering.” Devon comments on the parallelism between his co-op and his major. Throughout his time in the Purolite Co-op program Devon hopes to broaden his understanding of mechanical engineering, identify important technical details applicable to his studies, and practice effective communication. He wants to use this hands-on work experience, to gain the necessary skills to pursue a career in Process Engineering.

Devon comes to Purolite from Chester, Pennsylvania. In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer competitively. In addition to studying Mechanical Engineering, Devon is minoring in Spanish, which he sees as a useful skill to have moving forward. Devon’s involvement in the Co-op program at Purolite is his first experience in a factory / lab setting.

On working here, Devon notes “Everyone at Purolite has been extremely welcoming and I can’t wait to become more involved in the program and with my co-workers.”

Purolite is happy to have Devon as a part of the team!

Each year, Purolite offers temporary employment to two students majoring in Mechanical and Chemical Engineering from Widener and Lehigh Universities. The duration of a student’s employment, called the cycle, depends on which school the student is coming from. The students involved are given the opportunity to operate independently under the supervision of Sal Briscella (Operations Manager) and Les Confer (Senior Process Engineer.)

Purolite’s Co-op program began in 2012, making Devon our 18th Co-op. The program was created to offer students the opportunity to apply their textbook knowledge in a hands-on setting, while providing the plant with additional help from someone can handle process studies and/or equipment installation projects. Candidates from participating schools wishing to participate in the Co-op program may submit their resume and come to the plant for an interview and tour.

After the interviewing process, three candidates are chosen and ranked based on their qualifications. “It has been surprising (and encouraging) to me how often the names appearing on these slips of paper are the same between those of us who have conducted the interviews.” Mentions Les Confer.

“We definitely keep the students busy. I often hear from students that they received a larger amount of relevant, challenging, and useful projects than their peers participating in other Co-ops. I am extremely surprised by the amount of work that many of our participants have completed, oftentimes taking their projects plans or research home with them to complete during off-hours.” Praises Sal Briscella. Throughout the Co-op program, the student is provided with a list of projects assignments that corresponds to one of the five areas of plant operations (Plant Utilities, Process Improvements, Quality Improvements, Capital Projects and Maintenance Support, or Safety and Environmental.) Some of the skills a student might practice while at Purolite include: tracing pipe runs through a “maze” of overhead pipe, the definition of a steam trap, and the difference between actuated and modulated control valves.

“For me, mentoring these co-ops has become one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. Because I am nearing the end of my professional career, and have an individual contributor type position here, I am more relaxed and patient, and am willing to take the time to work with students (e.g. meet with them on frequent basis to discuss projects, show them relevant things in the plant, review and edit their technical reports, etc.” Mentions Les Confer. So far, Purolite’s Co-op program has proven wildly successful. There are numerous examples of students greatly contributing to the plants efficiency, identifying and solving problems, or even installing completely new structures within the plant. Many participants have gone on to find full time employment at manufacturing and engineering plants following their graduations.