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No Experience? No Problem

AUTHOR: Nina Welding

PUBLISHED: May 11, 2017

When Theodore Dilenschneider came to Notre Dame, he knew he loved three things — chemistry, math, and problem solving. He also knew he’d need some practical experience and help applying his talents and love for those things to a career. Chemical engineering felt like a natural path.

Looking back, Dilenschneider says engineering was the right choice. “It [engineering] is difficult, but it teaches you that failure is okay. It’s definitely something that I [and most of my classmates] had not really experienced before beginning the chemical engineering program. Learning how to problem solve from a failure is the most important skill I have learned.”

Dilenschneider has been working in the Water purification and Advanced Transport Engineering Research lab (W.A.T.E.R.) since his sophomore year. “I was nervous at my lack of lab experience and knowledge at first, but everyone — from the lab director to the graduate students also working in the lab — was accommodating and very helpful while I learned,” he says. His time in the lab has given him practical problem solving skills and confidence for tackling any difficult problem.

His research in the W.A.T.E.R. lab and class work over the last four years have also taught him the importance of improving the viability of current energy resources and discovering new ways of harvesting energy. That’s why he’s planning to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering after graduation. “I want to improve my theoretical background and practical experience in solving problems, eventually shifting from academia to the energy industry where I can apply the skills I’m developing to help solve what I believe to be the largest problem the world will face in my lifetime.”