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Biofuels center introduces Visiting Research fellow

The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has welcomed Visiting Research Fellow Brad Smith.

Funded by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, the nine-month Fellowship Program is intended to provide training and hands-on experience to prepare the next generation of engineers and scientists for work in mid-to high-skill jobs in the bioeconomy.

A Smithton native, Smith (shown) earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from SIUE in May 2019. He worked as an NCERC extra help operator and as a lead operating technician, during a 2019 contractual research project.

“NCERC benefits from mentoring recent college graduates, who have specialized areas of study in instrumentation, electronics, process control and mechanical engineering,” said NCERC Executive Director John Caupert. “In the role of engineering fellow, Brad will serve under the guidance of two supervisors. A faculty mentor/advisor will work with him to connect their industrial research to academic theory, and an NCERC research engineer will oversee his daily projects and provide professional mentorship. This joint supervisory model ensures the connection of theory to practice, and builds upon the Fellow’s academic degree through applied, hands-on learning in an industrial setting.”

During the fellowship, Smith will gain experience through assignments in process control and programming, project design and implementation, instrumentation and electronics coding and maintenance, revising and developing standard operating procedures, troubleshooting and maintenance, data collection, analysis, reporting, and more.

“I’m hoping to familiarize myself with the PCS 7 (a distributed control system), so I can handle whatever it throws at me,” Smith said. “I’m also looking to gain some leadership experience once more trials start up again, and hopefully when the fellowship is over, I will have the opportunity to stay on full-time at NCERC.”

Upon completion of the Fellowship Program, graduates will be qualified to work in the biofuels, pharmaceuticals, refining, brewing and chemical industries.

“NCERC extends a special thank you to the Illinois Corn Marketing Board for providing the funding necessary to conduct the Engineering Fellowship program,” said Caupert.


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