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A new generation of women engineers lead at Tuscola

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Tuscola Engineers pictured from left to right include Rose O’Donnell, Laurie McNeil, Holly Tutich, Megan O’Connell, Maureen Radi and Rose Luvaas collaborate together regarding the day-to-day operations at LyondellBasell’s Tuscola Plant.

At 2 p.m. sharp, LyondellBasell Tuscola Plant engineers gather to discuss strategy. They come from all walks of life ranging in age, levels of expertise within the plant, and job responsibility. Yet, there’s one commonality between them that is evident, they are all women. 

As a chemical engineer working at the LyondellBasell site, Laurie McNeil acknowledges that smaller sites have their advantages. Engineers have the opportunity to wear many hats and operate with a “all hands on deck” approach.

“We have the chance to collaborate on a number of efforts,” said McNeil. “Tuscola has a number of highly knowledgeable, highly experienced people mixed with new, fresh engineers. The attitude here is ‘what can I do to help set up my coworkers for success’?” 

Even a seasoned individual like Holly Tutich, a LyondellBasell principal engineer, takes comfort in the group’s conversations. It’s a reminder that being proactive and seeking to understand is important.

“At the beginning of my career I was hesitant to ask questions and I would be apprehensive when a project I was installing suddenly had something unforeseen come up,” said Tutich. “I quickly learned the more questions you ask, the more you learn and become comfortable interacting with your peers.”

Tutich admitted that you should always be prepared for the unexpected (which she joked usually occurs late on a Friday afternoon, as the work week is wrapping up!).

This all female project team meets regularly and for Megan O’Connell, who is a LyondellBasell electrical engineer, finds that having a strong team in place makes all the difference in the world. 

“The attitude here is you are not expected to know everything or do everything yourself,” said O’Connell. “Everyone brings something to the table within their area of expertise.”

Kristin Reynolds is a LyondellBasell environmental engineer who agrees with O’Connell and emphasizes the importance of relying on each other’s strengths. 

“My knowledge is environmental not electrical/instrumentation, mechanical, process control, or civil,” said Reynolds. “So I had to heavily rely on the expertise of all of the ladies here in order to design and implement a process that met our standards.”

O’Connell shared that she’s learned a lot from working with this group and has a bit of advice for others. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are struggling with something,” she said.

“This blending of experience and enthusiasm creates an excellent working environment,” explained McNeil. “I’m fortunate to work with such a strong group of women, who help each other out.”

Seeing the comradery they’ve built and the experiences they’ve had, makes LyondellBasell chemical engineer Rose O’Donnell hope that more young women join the manufacturing industry and consider careers in math and science related fields.  

O’Donnell’s interest in math and science, along with a visit to a middle school state science fair are what led her to become an engineer.

“I found myself fascinated with the skills and challenges engineers faced,” O’Donnell explained with a laugh as she looks at her fellow peers. She continued, “Engineering would allow me to follow my passion of science and mathematics while challenging my preconceived perceptions. It truly is a diverse career where people of all backgrounds can come to the table to collaborate, problem-solve and bring forth their collective thoughts and ideas.” 

The LyondellBasell Tuscola plant is the only synthetic ethanol manufacturer in North America. End use products at the facility include personal care products, motor oil, binding agents and barrier film.

About LyondellBasell

LyondellBasell (NYSE: LYB) is one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world. Driven by its employees around the globe, LyondellBasell produces materials and products that are key to advancing solutions to modern challenges?like?enhancing food safety through lightweight and flexible packaging, protecting the purity of water supplies through stronger and more versatile pipes, improving the safety, comfort and fuel efficiency of many of the cars and trucks on the road, and ensuring the safe and effective functionality in electronics and appliances. LyondellBasell sells products into more than 100 countries and is the world’s largest producer of polypropylene compounds and the largest licensor of polyolefin technologies.?In 2020, LyondellBasell was named to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s Most Admired Companies” for the third consecutive year.?More information about LyondellBasell can be found at www.lyondellbasell.com.  

About LyondellBasell’s Tuscola Plant

The Tuscola plant employs around 100 people and occupies nearly 900 acres. The site produces ethyl alcohol, diethyl ether and specialty polymers. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is used in many health care and personal product applications such as hair spray, capsule manufacturing, hand sanitizer, and pharmaceutical cleaning. Diethyl ether finds applications as a laboratory reagent solution, usage in chemical synthesis, as an ammunition drier, and starter fluid. The specialty polymers produced here include microfine powders used as additives in personal care products, lubricants, binding agents, water filtration systems, and moisture barriers.

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