Jesse's summer flotation

Jesse McEwan (far left) with BASF mentor Daniel Chipfunhu

While many uni students spend their summer breaks going travelling or to the beach, Jesse McEwan instead used the time away from his studies to gain some valuable work experience at BASF’s Mining Solutions Research and Development laboratory in Perth. Before commencing his final year of a double degree in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, we caught up with Jesse to talk about what he learnt working in R&D and his plans for life after uni.

Jesse McEwan first become interested in studying chemistry when chatting to his sister about her university degree. “I really liked math and science at school, but I didn’t know much about chemical engineering,” Jesse explains. “My sister was in the field first and was telling me about some of the things she was doing and I really liked the sound of getting to solve these real world problems”. When Jesse received his high school study score, he “jumped” at the chance to enrol in a double degree in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Curtin University, two fields Jesse says, “balance each other out really well.”

Jesse made contact with BASF after seeing an advertisement for a summer work placement to assist with research in flotation.  “I thought it was a great opportunity to finance my degree and invest in my future understanding,” Jesse shares. “It’s an opportunity to gain a lot of great knowledge and a good chance for to see what we learn in our studies in real life”.

Over three months, Jesse worked alongside Daniel Chipfunhu, Global Development Specialist, conducting flotation tests to understand the performance of new chemicals. “The tests I’ve been doing mirror the processes that happen on a mine, so I’ve been doing a lot of work that has helped me practice my lab technique and requires data analysis which has helped my understanding of what is happening in the process.”

Jesse has also had the “eye opening” opportunity to travel with different BASF colleagues to customer mine sites and gain exposure to BASF’s solid-liquid separation segment. “While I was doing project work for Daniel it was really great to also learn completely new skills. I got taken by three different colleagues to three different sites. To see my colleagues in action, solving problems, and watching how they deduced what needed to be fixed, I was really grateful for that.”

Overall Jesse says his work experience placement has been “invaluable” and has increased his drive to do well in his final year of studies. “Uni can be very technical and at times it’s hard to correspond what you’re learning with where you’re going to apply it in the real world. Work experience broadens your horizons of what you can actually do when you finish uni. It’s not something you can get out of a textbook, especially doing the hands-on work that I’ve been doing.”

We wish Jesse all the best in his final year of studies!