Student Profile: Paul Backscheider
Posted: 01-Jan-01
M.S. 2001 Chemical Engineering, Purdue University

While most Purdue students spend their undergraduate years on the West Lafayette campus, Paul Backscheider's academic life has taken on an international dimension. Not only is he one of the founders and president of the Purdue chapter of the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE), but he has also benefited from two international internships, one to England and another on a IAESTE internship to Finland. Backscheider's work on these internships have enabled him to refine his career goals and gain a global perspective.

Backscheider has served on two international internships and one domestic co-op. His first internship was with an environmental consulting firm, Montgomery-Watson LTD of High Wycomb, United Kingdom. From May to August of 1997, he worked in the Downstream Modeling Group in both their Warrington and Cardiff offices. Some of the tasks that he performed while on this internship included participating in the field survey of drainage networks and modeling field data in order to forecast overload scenarios for hundred year storm events.

Backscheider's second internship took him abroad again. During the summer of 2000, he traveled to Otaniemi, Finland where he worked as a research engineer in the New Plant Design Team at Helsinki University of Technology. At this internship, Backscheider found his work in the development of a Fortran process simulator quite challenging.

While gaining experience in applying their technical expertise, students on IAESTE internships also broaden their cultural horizons and develop global networks.

Backscheider also spent four terms in Minnesota and Kentucky as a Co-op Engineer for the Optimization Group at Marathon-Ashland Petroleum, L.L.C. Not only did he train and supervise incoming co-op students, but he also formulated algorithms for a rate-based distillation model. This simulation, in turn, was used to better predict packed bed distillation with the use of non-equilibrium stage calculations.

Backscheider's international internships reflect his enthusiastic involvement with the Purdue chapter of IAESTE. This organization enables students in technical fields to gain on-the-job training in international locations. The parent association, IAESTE global, was founded in 1948 at Imperial College, London, and IAESTE United States was established in 1950. The motto of IAESTE is "Developing Global Skills in Tomorrow's Technical Leaders," and it achieves this goal by enabling the exchange of students from more than 70 countries. As part of a small group of dedicated students, Backscheider helped to found IAESTE Purdue in the fall of 1999. This chapter has received both the "Excellence 21" and the "Rookie of the Year" awards at Purdue, and in February 2001, they were chosen as the "Local Chapter of the Year" from all the local chapters of the national organization.

As the president of IAESTE Purdue, Backscheider works with the other officers in securing internships in the regional area, hosting international students that are part of the IAESTE program, and securing funds for the program. The membership of the Purdue chapter has grown; last year's group of three members has grown to 20 this year. So far, the local chapter has helped to send 15 to 20 students abroad, and this summer at least 10 more students will participate in its international internships. IAESTE internships pay the student's expenses, including living expenses, plane fare, and some extra spending money. These internships really benefit the participating students: not only do they gain invaluable experience in their fields, but these internships are especially attractive to prospective employers. While gaining experience in applying their technical expertise, students on IAESTE internships also broaden their cultural horizons and develop global networks.

Backscheider has now turned over the presidency of IAESTE to Matt Hills, a Mechanical Engineering student. After graduating this spring with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Backscheider will continue his international interests by traveling to South America for seven weeks. He will visit Machu Picchu in Peru, Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, Iguazu Falls in Argentina, and the lake district in Chile. In July, he will move to Vermont in order to work as a Project Engineer in the Chemical Systems Division of IBM. In this new position, Backscheider will be part of a team that supports new tools (i.e., robots) used in the microchip fabrication process. We wish Paul good luck in his future pursuits-both domestic and international!

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