Meet the engineering student who helped the world’s fight against COVID-19

Guillermo Fiallos-Gonzalez

Through the Cooperative Education Program at Case Western Reserve University, engineering students have a unique opportunity to gain hands-on, paid-work experience with an employer that’s vetted through the school.

This past year, chemical engineering major Guillermo Fiallos-Gonzalez, participated in a co-op at Cummins Filtration in Cookeville, Tennessee, where he was able to directly make an impact in the fight against COVID-19.

Guillermo recently shared his experience with us and how the global pandemic quickly changed his work.

How did you find your co-op with Cummins Filtration?
“I connected with Cummins recruiters at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Convention in 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. I would definitely take advantage of CWRU organizations, such as the SHPE to further develop your professional skills. The Cooperative Education Program office and the Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education office are also great places that support and help co-ops and internships.” 

What was your co-op experience like?
“During this experience I had the chance to make a difference in the company and in the world. Cummins manufactures and distributes engines, filtration and power-generation products. At the beginning of my co-op, I performed standard-based tests on Cummins Filtration fuel and hydraulic polymer filter media to analyze if current and future customer expectations can be met. I was also responsible for further developing the nanotechnology filter media and replicating real-world degradation conditions.”

How did your work change when the pandemic started?
“As COVID-19 spread across the world, my team’s efforts shifted from researching and manufacturing fuel, hydraulic and lube filtration media to personal protective equipment (PPE) media. Cummins used its pre-existing filter technology to address the shortage of face-masks in the United States and the world. I assisted in the development from concept to commercialization of PPE respirators, N95 masks and surgical masks in the fight of COVID-19.  

As of July, Cummins has provided more than 14 tons of its filtration media to mask manufacturers around the world. The filtration mask media has been used to manufacture more than 8 million masks. It was very satisfying to be part of this project because you could see the direct impact you were having in the world.”