Rainwaters’ career ambitions stem from years of interest in math and science, as well as her family’s work in the field. Her mother, Lynn, has been with BASF for 31 years, currently a Production Assistant in the Light Stabilizers Production Unit in McIntosh, where Rainwaters’ uncle also worked.
“As a child, Sharla enjoyed playing with microscopes and working on chemistry and physics projects at school,” said Lynn Rainwaters. “It’s amazing how company events like our family fun days and science competitions inspired her passion for science.”
Rainwaters test-drove an engineering career of her own this summer under supervisor Justin Evoy, BASF Production Engineer. Over the course of her internship, Rainwaters engaged in a variety of hands-on tasks, including researching cost savings associated with implementing equipment, speaking with vendors to gather estimates, and updating and verifying operating procedures.
“My favorite project has been working to install valves and flanges to a line in the granulation part of the process,” stated Rainwaters. “The valves and flanges will allow the line to be cleaned more easily, which will increase operator efficiency and reduce plant downtime.”
“Sharla quickly gained respect in the operations unit and had proved herself to be a valuable member of our team,” said Evoy. “She is very effective at pushing process improvement projects through to completion and has helped us improve asset effectiveness in our granulation unit. Because of her precedent, we look forward to making an intern part of our standard operations team.”
Rainwaters cites the benefits of interning at BASF as getting to translate what she learns in school to practical applications in the field, in addition to receiving an idea of what to expect after she graduates.
“This experience as an intern has proved to me that I made the right choice when I chose chemical engineering as my field of study,” said Rainwaters. “I would highly recommend the internship program to other college students. The skills you gain from getting real-life, hands-on experience at an internship is invaluable.”
A graduate of Washington County High School, Rainwaters also advises current high school students to explore all career options available to them.
“Don’t avoid a particular career choice because the classes look hard,” she said. “The hard work and determination will pay off in the future.”
Rainwaters plans to graduate from USA in May 2017.
The BASF co-location site is situated within the Evonik complex in Theodore, Alabama. The plant produces a chelating agent that delivers a non-toxic, environmentally friendly alternative that improves cleaning performance in a variety of applications, including general purpose cleaners, floor care products, disinfectants and sanitizers, laundry detergents, automatic dishwashers, vehicle wash aids, and hand cleansers. The facility, owned and managed by BASF, is operated by Evonik personnel.