Alec Salakovich ’17

Chemical Engineering

“I like the idea of applying science to solving problems.”

WVU chemical engineering student Alec Salakovich has already had the opportunity to work in the engineering field -- two years before his expected graduation date.

A native of Follansbee, W.Va., Salakovich decided to pursue a degree in chemical engineering in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources after graduating from Brooke High School.


“I took AP chemistry in high school and that really inspired me,” Salakovich said. “I like the idea of applying science to solving problems. I like the mathematical description of the world, that’s why I chose engineering.”

Salakovich is a recipient of the Camden Coberly Scholarship awarded to students with academic promise who demonstrate financial need.


Raised in a family of three kids with a single mom, Salakovich says the scholarship has helped him to afford living expenses during his enrollment at WVU.


“I’ve come close to the budget sometimes,” Salakovich said. “So receiving this scholarship is very helpful.”


Salakovich accepted a position at MeadWestvaco in Covinton, Va. when he was a sophomore. He spent a year with the company, working as a process engineer for most of the time.


“It was a very eye opening experience as to what being a chemical engineer is like. It was hands on,” Salakovich said, who will graduate in 2017.


While at MeadWestvaco, one of the tasks Salakovich accomplished was looking at processes to find better, faster and cheaper ways of production. Salakovich was able to find a more efficient process that would save $165,000 in raw material costs.


This past summer, Salakovich conducted material science research within WVU’s NanoSURE undergraduate research program. He focused on the use of polymer derived ceramics for the production of high temperature sensors.


Salakovich says that he is looking forward to learning more and continuing his education in the nationally-renowned engineering program at WVU.


“Everyone in the department is great,” he said. “Professors and students alike.”


The Camden Coberly Endowed Scholarship for undergraduate chemical engineering majors is made possible by WVU alum Camden Arthur Coberly. Coberly went on to attend Carnegie Institute of Technology and also the University of Wisconsin-Madison after his time at WVU.


After serving in the United States Navy as a radar officer during World War II, Coberly served as chief engineer of Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in St. Louis, Mo. He returned to the UW-Madison as a professor of chemical engineering, then became the associate dean of the College of Engineering in 1971.


He retired from the UW in 1992. As professor emeritus, he remained active in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the Chemical Engineering Academy of WVU.