During May, thousands of soon-to-be college graduates will be asking themselves many questions. What career do I want to pursue? In what location? Should I go to grad school?
West Virginia University senior Travis Crites is unlike most graduates. He knows where hes going, and hes spent most of his life preparing for this future. Come fall, Crites will enter the Ph.D. program at Carnegie Mellon University to pursue a degree in chemical engineering.
After receiving a coveted fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which provides him with $50,000 per year for three years, Crites found himself in the enviable position of being able to choose from the top universities in the nation to continue his formal education.
With his pick of admission to prestigious engineering programs, Critesdecision to attend Carnegie Mellon combined attending an institution with a top-notch reputation with a great location. A native of Weston, Crites can remain close to his roots while continuing his journey into the world.
“Im extremely fortunate that Im able to attend such a well-respected institution while being able to remain close to my family,”Crites remarked.
Not only has his family been supportive, but so has the WVU chemical engineering department.
“Chemical engineering is a close-knit department,”Crites said.”The professors are very supportive, and they are the first ones to tell you about career-building opportunities.”
While Crites made the decision to pursue the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship years ago, the encouragement he received fromand the impressive background he developed withfaculty in chemical engineering helped him to clinch the fellowship.
“Right now, Im looking to have the work Ive done with Dr. Rakesh Gupta published,”Crites said.
In addition to classroom credit and a thesis examining”Diffusion in Glassy Polymers Containing a Reactive Additive,”Crites also has a great deal of practical experience in the chemical engineering field.
He completed two co-op semesters with Union Carbide Corporation. In spring 2000, he worked at the Charleston location, and he spent the fall semester working in Houston, Texas. The following summer, he added to his co-op experience working with The DOW Chemical Corporation, formerly Union Carbide, again in Charleston.
During summer 2002, Crites was selected to attend the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he collaborated with MIT faculty to develop a reliable method for nano-contact printing of strong polyelectrolytes onto charged silicon surfaces.
While in college, Crites also received the Academy of Chemical Engineering Scholarship, was presented the Professional Promise Award by the Pittsburgh section of American Institute of Chemical Engineers and was a NASA -WV Space Grant Scholar. He is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
At graduation, Crites, who completed a double major while maintaining a 4.0 GPA , will also receive a bachelors degree in Russian. Earlier in the semester, he was selected as the Outstanding Senior in Foreign Languages.
“Hopefully, Ill be able to find a job that mixes my two degrees,”Crites commented.”With the increase of worldwide operations, it seems likely that I will be able to do so.”
As for his future plans, Crites remains open. While thinking hed like to remain in academe as a professor at a research institution, Crites hasnt ruled out working in industry or initiating his own research program.
“Im going to make good use of my summer and of my time at Carnegie Mellon to figure out what I want my future to be,”Crites said.”Chemical engineering is such a diverse field, with so many possible research avenues, that I cant pinpoint a niche yet.”