Chemical engineering students receive on-the-job training in sustainable and health technology labs

Published Jun 01, 2018

Riverside – Dr. Mario Oyanader, professor of chemical engineering at California Baptist University, views the labs he supervises as opportunities for students to gain real-world experience.

“If we didn’t have the equipment, our students would not be better prepared to execute certain skills or abilities on the job,” Oyanader said. “They have a better picture by having this initial training with us.”

In 2015, CBU received a $250,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation for the chemical engineering department within the Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering to purchase equipment in the field of sustainability and health technologies. The equipment helps students learn sustainable technology processes such as CO2 removal, reverse osmosis, fuel cells technology and water purification.

“The equipment re-emphasizes things that we teach in the classroom,” said Dr. Mark Anklam, professor of chemical engineering. “It allows the students to have the hands-on aspect for the course, so it’s not just theoretical.”

Genaro Gonzalez, a chemical engineering senior, said he appreciates training on the absorption unit, which dissolves carbon dioxide into water.

“Learning the process on paper is half the knowledge,” said Gonzalez, who plans to pursue a career related to water quality conservation after graduation. “Once we have to physically turn valves, adjust flow rates, calibrate devices, take data and interpret it. That is where absorption really became clear in my mind.”

Sarah Hrovat, a chemical engineering senior, intends to pursue a career in pharmaceutical productions.

“The [lab] equipment helps us understand the theory and concepts applied to analyzing chemical techniques,” Hrovat said. “In class we had diagrams, but being able to go into lab helped even more.”

Anklam said he hopes the skills acquired in the labs will prepare students to help others.

“The equipment is allowing us to tie the fundamentals to things that the students are passionate about—the environment, energy, human health,” Anklam said. “That’s why they’re in engineering, because they want to go, make a difference and help people.”