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Engineering and chewing gum

Maria Torres works for Wrigley's - she tells us how engineering got her involved in making gum.

Maria Torres Og

Name: Maria Torres
Age: 33
Job title: Quality Engineer
Qualifications: Bachelor Chemical Engineer and Master Degree in Quality Management and Statistical Process Control
Employer/university/college: Wrigley/Carabobo-Venezuela/A.Codazzi-Venezuela
Where you live: UK – Plymouth

Tell us about your job. What do you do?

My current Job is very interesting: I run trials in the chewing gum factory to qualify new ingredients/materials or suppliers. Also, we trial new products before launching them to the market, all while keeping all recipes and formulations up to date and in a safe place.

What does an average day look like for you?

I’m learning and solving new challenges every day. These could be related to logistics, management, test design, ingredient calculation or providing technical information, searching for the best solutions helping scientists with their questions about chewing gum ingredients.

How does your work affect people’s lives/the world around us?

My work contributes to making great chewing gum that creates a little pleasure in everyone’s day.

How did you first become interested in engineering/what inspired you to be an engineer?

My dad was the cause, since he was a dedicated chemistry teacher all his life. However, my intention was to study engineering to get a good solid platform to become an astronaut, but this dream was scrapped after I realised chemistry was much more interesting than physics, and being an astronaut required too much physics.

What exciting or challenging projects have you worked on recently?

There are many exciting projects. At the moment we are improving the strawberry flavour in our chewing gum. I have also worked in the trials to launch Airwaves Extreme and at the moment we will have an interesting flavour in our Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape for 2016.

What inspires you about engineering?

Engineering gives you the freedom to innovate and gives you lots of satisfaction when you’re helping processes, products, materials and people. The range of areas you could end up working in is very broad. It could include specialising in laboratory work, manufacturing, research and development, pharmaceutical engineering, oil and gas production and many more!

Why would you recommend an engineering career to a young person?

It’s the greatest career ever with no limits. It’s very flexible and you can apply your skills anywhere across the world. Engineering is the same in the UK, in China, or in Venezuela. The knowledge that you get is universal and will be very powerful for future generations. Engineering is a big contributor to human development.

Has engineering taken you around the world?

Yes, I have been In New York, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Venezuela and the UK, and there are many more countries to visit.

There are a number of different routes you can take into a career in engineering. What route did you take (and why)?

I took the chemistry and food industry route because it was very flexible. Being a chemical engineer you have a lot of choice, including the food industry, oil and gas, nuclear, engineering in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, water treatment and much more.

There are fewer women working in engineering than men. What would you say to girls who might be interested in a career in engineering?

Engineering needs female brains and passion. Any challenge currently faced by the engineering industry would benefit from the viewpoints of women. Our brains seem to work differently to men’s and we can use these perspectives to fill gaps and innovate.

What do you like most about engineering?

The flexibility, universality, visibility and recognition that a career in engineering gives you, plus the chance to think innovatively.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I cycle and play tennis and squash. I also like to spend time in saunas and steam rooms, as well as sleeping a lot!

What personal qualities are important for being an engineer?

Being proactive, thinking “outside-the box”, having good common sense and good self-confidence.

What advice would you give a young person who was considering engineering as a future career?

Just do it with perseverance! You won’t regret it.

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