Summer Internship at Prochem
Chance Christian ’20, Las Vegas, Nevada
Major: Applied Chemistry
Prochem Inc. is a small inorganic chemical manufacturer in Rockford, IL, and is where I spent my summer of 2019 as an intern. As a chemistry major, my courses at Beloit College prepared me for performing chemical reaction calculations and setting up inorganic synthesis reactions efficiently and safely. My internship began with the usage of the classic trigonometric acronym “SOH CAH TOA” in order to adjust a lathe to cut a Teflon block into a stopper for a round bottom flask. Next was the implementation of stoichiometry to calculate the elemental concentrations within the inorganic chemicals such as gallium bromide, copper(II) chloride, cobalt(III) oxide, and others through titration to meet the specifications of the customer’s request.
After these two written trials, my ability to blow scientific glassware came in handy as glass rods needed to be manipulated into stirrers. Next, the chemists and I engaged in hands-on work by moving, mixing, and reacting kilogram mass quantities of inorganic compounds together by manipulating pressure and temperature to push the reactions forward. The results of these syntheses are not only the chemical product, but the reaction vessel that needs to be hand washed with potent nitric and hydrofluoric acid.
The amount of physical labor that goes into performing these tasks stressed the importance of pacing time within a work environment. Communication was also a factor in the efficiency of the manufacturing process, as the workers performed unique steps within the synthesis of one product. The Prochem internship experience included many tasks that are beneficial for individuals who are pursuing a future in the chemical manufacturing industry.