The Charger Blog

Alumna Recognized for Dedication to Chemical Engineering Field

Amanda Scalza ’12 got involved with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) when she was a student at the University of New Haven. She continues to be actively involved with the institute, and her focus is on fostering diversity within the field.

December 16, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Amanda Scalza ’12.
Amanda Scalza ’12.

When Amanda Scalza ’12 was a student at the University of New Haven, she helped establish a student chapter of American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Her involvement with the organization, she said, enabled her to develop an invaluable support network of students and professionals, with whom she continues to stay in contact.

Image of Amanda Scalza ’12 working on a project at the University.
Amanda Scalza ’12 working on a project at the University.

During Scalza’s senior year, the University’s chapter hosted the organization’s New England regional conference. She says her involvement with the chapter provided support during her time as a student and during her transition into the industry.

The organization has now recognized Scalza among its 35 Under 35 Award recipients for 2020, an honor that recognizes engineers under age 35 who have made significant contributions to AIChE and to the chemical engineering profession. She and her fellow honorees were recognized at the AIChE Annual Meeting, which was held virtually last month.

“I am extremely grateful to have been nominated and chosen to be among this class of remarkable people who are all working in different ways to further the success of the chemical engineering profession,” said Scalza, who lives in Racine, Wisconsin. “I am fortunate to have met several of my fellow honorees through my volunteer activity with AIChE, and I am excited to continue working together with them in the future.”

Now a production manager at SC Johnson, Scalza manages the talent and technology in the chemical processing area that produces nearly half a billion pounds of liquid and aerosol intermediates of household cleaning projects, including Pledge, Windex, and Scrubbing Bubbles. Passionate about manufacturing, she enjoys working with a full supply chain team each day, which, she says, continues to engage and challenge her.

Image of Amanda Scalza ’12 and her classmates.
Amanda Scalza ’12 (front, center) and her classmates at the University of New Haven.
‘It was extremely rewarding’

Scalza, who earned degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry, continues to draw on what she learned at the University in her role at the company. She says learning to use tools such as Excel and opportunities for interdisciplinary skill building, outside of her education in chemical engineering and chemistry, were especially valuable.

“Having an education that was focused on understanding the basics of various disciplines, in addition to my own, enabled me to be better equipped from the start to interact with experts and tradespeople,” said Scalza.

A certified firefighter, Scalza is a member of the plant’s volunteer emergency response brigade. In addition to receiving basic first aid training, she is trained in firefighting, spill response, and confined-space rescue. She says her work as a firefighter has taught her much more than what to do in case of an emergency.

“Earning the firefighting certification was something that pushed me well outside my comfort zone,” she said. “It was extremely rewarding. While I expected the course would challenge me physically – my gear alone weighs almost 80 pounds – it also taught me unique lessons about teamwork. Being part of the emergency response team reminds me daily that personal and professional success requires both tenacity and humility. While incidents are very rare, I enjoy knowing I can be helpful if a situation ever occurred.”

Image of Amanda Scalza ’12 doing volunteer work.
Amanda Scalza ’12 (right) has taken the opportunity to volunteer as part of her involvement with AIChE.

In 2021, Scalza will be beginning a new role as chair of the Societal Impact Operating Council of AIChE, a group that oversees the teams and programs related to the council’s efforts of fostering diversity and inclusion in chemical engineering.

“While engineering as a profession has made large strides in increasing its diversity, there is still more work to be done,” she said. “The class of chemical engineers I graduated with at the University of New Haven was 50 percent female, which I believe is a remarkable statistic. I am excited to be a part of leading these efforts to ensure the chemical engineering profession is one that is equitable, diverse, and inclusive.”