Allison Dalbec ’05, chemistry major and defender for the All-Stars soccer team, put her chemistry knowledge to work during a summer 2004 internship for one of the world’s leading suppliers of fabric wipes.
With headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C., Contec, Inc.’s industrial cleaning products are used throughout the world by businesses in microelectronics, biotechnology, medical devices, and optic industries. The products are also used in the aerospace and automobile industries.
“In essence, our products are used to clean and prepare surfaces,” said Mike Arena, Senior Engineer at Contec. “NASA uses our products to clean their Space Shuttles, and automobile companies such as BMW, Chrysler, and Jeep use our products to prepare vehicles for painting on the assembly line.”
Allison’s assignment at Contec was to significantly update the company’s Material Safety Data Sheet program (MSDS). MSDS’s are mandated by the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and are designed to provide both workers and emergency personnel with the proper procedures for handling or working with a particular substance. MSDS’s include information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures. These are of particular use if a spill or other accident occurs.
“The bulk of Contec’s MSDS’s were in hard-copy form,” said Allison. “My job was to update the information and convert it for a web-based platform. My chemistry background at Converse was very helpful because Contec needed someone who was familiar with names of chemicals and the types of reactions they can cause.”
Betsy Potter ’94, a Converse chemistry graduate and current Chemist for Contec’s Research and Development Department, worked closely with Allison. “Allison was in charge of verifying that our MSDS information was precise,” she said. “That’s where her Converse education came into play; she was obviously very well prepared by her professors and did a tremendous job for us.”