Interview: How this engineer fell in love with manufacturing at BASF
Engineer Keva Powell shares her journey from BASF’s Professional Development Program to her current role leading the Mechanical Integrity Program in Freeport, TX. Read the full article below from STEM Workforce Diversity, an Equal Opportunity Publications magazine:
Powell Ensures Mechanical Integrity at BASF
It was four years ago that Keva Powell graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Soon after, she joined BASF’s Professional Development Program (PDP), fulfilling roles at BASF sites in Quincy, FL and Geismar, LA. She completed three rotations, beginning as a process engineer focusing on safety and quality improvements, as well as equipment optimization to meet the needs of production.
During her second rotation, as a customer experience champion, Powell worked to implement a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to help within the business. A third stint followed as an operations engineer supporting day-to-day production and improvement efforts within the Carboxy Continuous Unit
Today, as a mechanical integrity engineer, Powell supports BASF’s Freeport, TX site, while pursuing a master’s degree in software development. As for what experiences she believes particularly prepared her for her current position, she smiles and mentions, life.
“Being a person of color, a woman in STEM, and a first-generation college student all played a part in preparing me for where I am today. Life’s challenges and experience helped me grow as an individual and taught me to think outside the box,” she elaborates.
As a child, Powell dreamed of becoming a mechanic. “Since I didn’t see many black female mechanics, I wanted to influence and inspire those who looked like me to pursue this male-dominated career,” she shares.
“Fortunately, my mother convinced me that mechanical engineering was the same but on a higher level, and it wasn’t until my internship as a maintenance engineer with BASF that I fell in love with manufacturing.”
Continuing, Powell reflects on her early days at BASF, which has U.S. headquarters in Florham Park, NJ and global headquarters in Germany. Recalling that despite loving her role as a maintenance engineer, she realized that, as a single mother, with a then two-year-old, she needed more job flexibility.
“Today I have just that. I lead and maintain the Freeport site’s Mechanical Integrity Program, which involves working closely with the inspection department and other groups to ensure industry and company compliance,” she explains.
In addition, she enjoys the fact that her days are different and that she’s able to leave a positive impact.
Highlighting the need for diverse-culture individuals to pursue a career similar to hers, Powell says that “aside from the technical knowledge needed to be successful in this industry, networking is a key aspect to developing both personally and professionally.”
Mechanical engineering has also afforded her the chance to explore both technical and non-technical roles. “I’ve learned more through the relationships I’ve had and the opportunity to develop throughout my career.”
Her advice to others includes being patient, flexible, and open to change. “Learn how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Things will not always go as planned,” advises Powell, who now serves as co-chair of the African American Employee Group (AAEG) in Freeport, treasurer for the national AAEG, and a mentor to BASF interns.
To read the article in STEM Workforce Diversity magazine online, visit this link