Thursday, February 21, 2013

Article about Chris and I on UT Chem Eng website!

And here is the text of the article... I am guessing they won't host it forever!  And yes, there were other couples featured too... but I'm just posting the part about us.  ;-)

Matches Made in ChE

February 14th, 2013

Dr. Chris Nelli, B.S. ‘95; Ph.D. ‘97 & Michelle Nelli B.S. ‘98

Chris & Michelle Nelli

How did you meet?

Chris: After graduating with my Ph.D. and no job prospects, I was wondering how I could stay in Austin without a source of income. Then I heard Dr. Koros, department chair at the time, needed instructors for ChE 354 Unit Ops. Fortunately, I had taught ChE 354 previously with Dr. Allen as a mentor and had been a TA to Prof. Himmelblau for his intro ChE course. Thus, out of sheer luck and a little talent, I was the most qualified, non-faculty person to teach ChE 354 the summer of ‘97.
You could say that without the confidence that Professors Himmelblau, Allen, and Koros placed in me as an instructor, I would have never met my wife. The summer of ‘97 was a very momentous time for me. I got a job with Huntsman Petrochemical Company in June-where I am still employed-and after inviting my class for beer and two-stepping after the last day of classes, I met Michelle for the first time outside of the classroom. Everyone had a good time and we agreed that we should do it again after final exams. The rest is history, as they say, and after 16 years, I still have the same job and companion.
I can personally vouch that what starts at Texas changes the world!

Do you have a story to share about your time as a ChE couple?

Michelle: When Chris was starting his first year at Huntsman and I was a senior, it was definitely helpful to have him as a resource to help explain my, often puzzling, unit operations lab results and as a source of support and encouragement during my job search. After graduating in 1998, I worked in the software industry in Austin (remember the years?), so we didn’t have much chance to talk chemical engineering then.

What are you both doing now?

Michelle: We just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary Feb 5. We have three children, ages 5, 7, and 9, which I have been homeschooling for the past three years. Having a degree in chemical engineering has certainly provided me with confidence that I am qualified to teach my own children. If you can obtain a chemical engineering degree, you can do anything!
It also enabled me to facilitate a chemistry course (Real Science-4-Kids) for my daughter when she was in 2nd and 3rd grade, solely because she thought the subject matter was cool and she enjoyed having something technical to discuss with her Daddy at the dinner table.

Chris: My current job in technology licensing and business development requires me to visit clients and partners overseas-I have taken 20 international trips in the last 3 years. I have visited 15 countries across Europe, Middle East and Asia, including approximately 30 visits to China. I try to get away from work when I can, and with Michelle’s homeschooling, our schedule is flexible enough for us to vacation during off periods. We like to take vacations during the Chinese New Year because that is when I am least interrupted at work from business in China.

Does chemical engineering still provide a connection for you-is it something you chat about?

Michelle: Chris will occasionally discuss some Aspen modeling work that he is doing or supervising. I can relate from my time spent struggling with it and trying to get it to work when I was in reactor design.

Chris: Most of our chats over the dinner table usually focus on our kid’s education now. It’s been a pleasant surprise to learn that my kids are genuinely interested in the work I do (i.e., plan, design, and commission chemical plants overseas for our clients and business partners).

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