Student Spotlight: Nathaly Samper
Nathaly Samper knew she wanted to study engineering. She just wasn’t sure what field to pursue – or where to pursue it.
However, after receiving College of DuPage’s Presidential Scholarship, Samper knew she had found the right place was for her.
“College of DuPage was the economically smart choice,” she said. “Also, as part of the scholarship, I was involved with the Honors Program, which motivated me to maintain a strong GPA. So I knew my educational future would not be hindered in any way. Instead, being at COD was a huge stepping stone toward my career goal.”
While at COD, she discovered chemistry and participated in an internship at Packer Engineering, where she worked on its innovative Green Fuels Depot project, which converted agricultural and yard trimmings into energy. This work helped Samper decide to pursue mechanical engineering and specialize in alternative energies. Her decision was heartily supported by her professors.
“Honestly, to this day, my favorite professors are the ones I had at COD,” she said. “The classes were smaller and professors took a personal interest in us, something I greatly appreciated. Many professors at COD helped me by giving me advice for the future, setting up networking opportunities, and even giving me the opportunity for internships in areas I was interested in.
“I had no problem transferring to Purdue University, where I could finish my four-year degree in Mechanical Engineering. Also, COD set up a great foundation to work from once I was at Purdue. It helped me reach my career goals because I was able to intern at Northwestern University in its MRSEC program, thanks to Professor Richard Jarman, and attain hands-on experience.”
While at Purdue, Samper obtained a summer internship at Hobart Brothers, ITW. She joined a multicultural sorority, Omega Phi Beta Sorority, and served as its president. She also studied abroad in China, which provided invaluable experience and helped her think more globally.
Purdue also selected Samper as part of its “5 Students Who Move the World Forward” campaign, posting an interview with her online and even hanging posters around campus with her photo. She considered it a great honor and a major opportunity to network with both peers and alumni.
Samper graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. After taking a little time off to travel, she obtained a job at Frigel North American in East Dundee, an Italian company that specializes in process cooling for plastic injection molding, blow molding, thermoforming and extrusions.
She is now a project engineer at Finkl Steel in Chicago, and her department is responsible for all of the tooling inside the steel mill, from furnaces to lathes.
“It’s a totally different line of work but I was given the chance through networking opportunities,” she said. “I couldn’t pass it up because this new position allows me to do a lot more design work and implementation, which will increase my knowledge base exponentially. My first project is to install a solid material burner injection system into an existing electric arc furnace. It’s a big project with a lot of components: retrofitting existing silos to hold the new solid materials, designing the piping from the silos to the furnace, the modification of the furnace with the new burners, and the electrical controls for the automatization of the material injection.”
Because she credits College of DuPage for providing a strong base for her education and career, Samper advises students to start at COD.
“The programs provide a great foundation toward whichever degree you choose,” she said. “My biggest piece of advice is if you know you want to transfer to a university and finish your degree, make a list of schools you want to attend. Then start working with COD’s counselors and the transfer universities' counselors to make sure that as many of your classes transfer and you are doing everything you need so you won’t fall behind.”
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