Taussig was a third year student majoring in Chemical and Biological Engineering and a minor in Biomedical Engineering when she attended a national conference in 2010 for Society of Women Engineers. There she found the opportunity to work with Dow Chemical Company on an alternating-term co-op. Students work at different Dow locations across the United States as the move from one assignment to the next. The Dow Co-op Program provides students with first-hand experience of working for a global company as well as the opportunity to evaluate Dow as a potential full time employer.
“I worked at the Dow Chemical site (I did not work in a plant within the site because I was in the building with people mostly from Environmental, Health, and Safety) in Deer Park, Texas, and focused on environmental projects, including waste, water, and air. Much of my work involved compliance issues and reports to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.”
Taussig’s projects included the development of a checklist for self-audits to make it easier for company employees to comply with pertinent regulations. She worked with her supervisor to develop a spreadsheet to keep track of compliance data surrounding air, record keeping requirements, and reporting that data to the state.
Taussig said she was nervous about a temporary move to Texas and being isolated from family and friends, but she soon found a new supportive community of Co-ops and new-hires in Deer Park. She also joined the Houston Hillel and running club (Runner’s High Club), and participated in the BP MS 150 bike race to help raise funds for the Nation Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“It was a great experience, and I also got a better understanding of the importance of what I am learning at CSU,” said Taussig. “My supervisor had two kids, so air quality was a personal concern for her and her family. As part of my work, I want to make sure companies are responsible to future generations so they can live happy and healthy lives.”
For Taussig, the day-to-day experiences were only surpassed by two larger lessons.
“Probably the biggest thing I learned is that work is perpetual. In school, you have a midterm coming up, you study, and it’s done. But at work, I really came to understand the effort and work it takes to move from words to action – how efficiency is important, people come together, tasks are assigned, projects taken on – and how much has to happen to get things done.”
During Taussig’s final Terms co-oping, she was at Dow’s international headquartered in Midland, Michigan, where her work focused on manufacturing engineering.