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ARCS Scholars Visit 3M

Posted on Monday, March 30, 2020

3M Corporation hosted a visit of our University of Minnesota ARCS Scholars along with the university’s Graduate Women in Biomedical Engineering on February 26, 2020.

3M Innovation Center

The visit kicked off with a guided tour of 3M’s Corporate Innovation Center, which included an interactive wall of notable 3M scientists and leaders, a planetarium-like video experience, and interactive displays of 3M’s technology platforms.

3M scientists discuss their careers

The visit moved to a large conference room decorated with a wall of photos of 3M’s Carlton Society winners. The Carlton Society is 3M’s most prestigious award for scientists whose technical achievements contributed most significantly to 3M’s ability to advance science and impact lives. Here the group was joined by 3M employees and welcomed by the organizer of the event from 3M, Semra Cotak Atan, a Research Specialist with the Corporate Research Materials Laboratory. Then ARCS and specifically the ARCS Minnesota Chapter was briefly introduced by Ingrid Blair, followed by an introduction of the Graduate Women in Biomedical Engineering by Lizzy Crist (ARCS Minnesota Scholar, 2017-2019). The 3M program started with a brief introduction to the company and career reflection by Denise Rutherford, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs. Denise, who holds a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry, began her career in the corporate research laboratories. She has held executive positions in both the laboratory and business sides of the company. 

As a demonstration of an accomplished career as a scientist at 3M, Mahfuza Ali, Corporate Scientist, shared her journey. Mahfuza, who has a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, started her career in the Specialty Chemicals Division Laboratory, now known as the Film & Materials Resources Lab. She shared what she learned from both success and failure in the scientific and commercial aspects of her projects. As a Corporate Scientist, Mahfuza is at the highest technical job grade for the company. To allow for career progression, 3M splits roles on to either the Technical or Management ladder with comparative job grades.

Panel discussion

The culmination of the 3M session was a panel of female employees who answered questions from the audience. The group included a robust view of the types of careers available to scientists. Panel members were:

  • Sailaja Chandrapati, Lead Product Development Specialist, Food Safety Division
  • Del Langer-Anderson, Global Laboratory, Stationery and Office Division
  • Swarna Swaminathan, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Healthcare Business Group
  • Mary Buckett, Lead Research Specialist, Central Research and Analytical Laboratory

The panel offered the candid responses on a range of topics from work-life balance, travel, company culture, and career advancement.

ARCS Scholar posters and networking

The session transitioned to poster displays from the students. A few of our scholars arranged to follow up meetings with 3M employees. The day full of networking and learning ended with a group picture.

3M event