Student Spotlight: Marco Hartnett
Since his mom is a chemical engineer, Marco Hartnett always did well in the subject.
“Chemistry was something I picked up on my own,” he said. “When I was a sophomore in high school, I had one of those perfect high school teachers for chemistry. It was the one class I would sit there and listen to every lecture and get it.”
Still, he bounced around between different majors before selecting chemical engineering. Although Hartnett has no specific plans after getting his bachelor’s degree, he is interested in pursuing graduate degrees and possibly entering either the renewable energy or biochemistry field.
“Knowledge is power, and it’s important to find a career that I really love,” he said. “I’d like to apply my knowledge and abilities toward finding the solution to a variety of issues we face today.”
Hartnett gained valuable experience working in his own lab space during a summer chemistry internship at the University of Split in Croatia. In addition to manning his own lab, Hartnett worked with an assistant who provided an extra set of hands while he conducted research on the crystallization process in the University’s Chemistry and Technology department.
“To be given the freedom and opportunity to have my own space and equipment was very new and different,” he said. “By the end of the internship, I felt like an actual working scientist.”
Hartnett discovered the internship through his mother, Nina, an adjunct chemistry professor at College of DuPage. Originally from Croatia, she attended the University of Split and knew the head of the Chemistry and Technology department as a former colleague. He was able to guide Hartnett through the application process.
Although Hartnett had spent summers as a boy in Croatia, he had not returned in 13 years.
“I was very nervous going into it, because I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “Everyone I worked with was amazing. They were all so helpful, and they all made it clear that if I had any questions I shouldn’t be afraid to ask. My professor would sit down with me every day and explain the day’s topic and what the experiment would be. Then I would be left alone for several hours. The professor was great about checking in with me and making sure I understood all of the calculations.”
The internship provided Hartnett with a glimpse into a research career, as he hopes to work in a lab setting as he pursues a career in chemical engineering.
Hartnett chose College of DuPage for several reasons – his older brother came to COD and he recognized the value the College provides. He graduated with honors, earning his Associate in Engineering Science degree, and currently is working to save money so he can pursue his bachelor’s degree.
“I have friends who already have $20,000 to $30,000 in school loans, and I want to finish my schooling with less than $10,000 in debt,” he said. “I always tell people that they should go to College of DuPage for their first two years. I would argue that you get a better education at COD because the class sizes are smaller and you get that individualized attention. A close-knit classroom is better for learning.”
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