Chemical engineering alumna wins Distinguished Undergraduate Award from the American Chemical Society

Lisa Schalm

Lisa Schalm, who recently graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in chemical engineering, was awarded the 2017-18 Distinguished Undergraduate Student Award by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Schalm was nominated by the WSU Department of Chemical Engineering in recognition of her undergraduate achievements. Since graduating, she has toured multiple engineering facilities and is considering a career in either polymer, pharmaceutical or petrochemical engineering.  

Schalm gained industry experience in her final year at WSU as a thermochemical engineering intern at Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, a company that develops and tests lightweight manufacturing technology.   

“I was tasked with the job of setting up their capabilities as a metal-testing facility. I worked with their servo presses, ran tests of various metal samples and communicated with customers to work together and perform these tests,” Schalm said. 

Schalm credits her undergraduate success and abundant job opportunities to her networking abilities.  

“The whole community at Wayne State University has been super supportive, both the students and the professors,” she said.  "I love taking the time to meet with my professors individually after class. I didn’t hesitate to develop relationships with them. They know me not just as a student, but as a person.” 

Schalm found a mentor in Dr. Helen Durand, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering who teaches product and process design.   

 “Lisa was a very diligent and prepared student and demonstrated a great depth of understanding of chemical process design,” said Durand.  “She has a very bright future.”  

Schalm realized she had a passion for process engineering and wanted to pursue it professionally after taking Durand's class.  

"Durand ran the class so well, introduced so many interesting topics and was always so enthusiastic about teaching,” she said. “I want to be a process engineer because of her.” 

Entry-level positions in process engineering are scarce, so Schalm plans to work in adjacent fields and attain a process engineering position later in her career, she said. 

Schalm was also nominated for the prestigious Wayne State University College of Engineering Robert G. Wingerter Award and worked as a peer mentor for the college’s EOS program.   

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