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Q&A with Trent Carrier ’94

Trent Carrier earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from NC State in 1994. Trent also earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California Berkeley and an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. Trent is currently the Chief Operating Officer of L7 Informatics, a life sciences software company headquartered in Austin, Texas. 

In a recent Q&A, Trent shared how CBE prepared him for a successful career and how he is giving back to his alma mater.

 

white man at a podium
Trent Carrier was the alumni speaker at the 2022 Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering graduation ceremony.

What was it like coming back to campus as an alumni speaker at graduation?
It was very exciting to see all of the graduates getting ready to take on the world. I’ve been to Centennial Campus a couple of times but it was special to be back on the main campus, despite the downpour during this year’s graduation ceremonies (I forgot how slippery wet bricks can be).

What are some of your fondest memories of your time at NC State?
My fondest memories center on the wonderful people at NC State – friends, classmates, faculty members. It’s remarkable to think back on my undergraduate experience and the number of people whose lives interlaced with mine during those years. Most of my clearest memories involve lack of sleep – whether waiting in line overnight for football tickets, studying late evenings in Jordan Hall (you could always find an open classroom) or enjoying a band party on fraternity court. I am excited about being back in Raleigh and having the opportunity to continue adding to those memories as an alumnus.

How did CBE prepare you for the real world?
I find it funny that I’ve relocated my ChE textbooks and notebooks seven times since graduating from NC State. They are sitting on a bookshelf in our basement today. I think it’s a generational thing – those books are a tangible symbol of my engineering training and so I keep dragging them around with me. The reality is that I’ll never open them again because the most valuable skills that I received from CBE wasn’t the specifics in the textbooks but rather the problem solving and critical thinking skills that I gained along the way.

Why did you choose NC State CBE?
Engineering was a field that appealed to me, which made NC State an easy choice. During my freshman year, I read somewhere that CHE paid the best and so decided to go that direction – not really an inspirational choice but I’m very thankful that I was lucky in making the right one for me.

What inspired you to spearhead the creation of the Richard M. Felder Teaching Excellence Endowment?
I always wanted to acknowledge the role that NC State and CBE had on my life and I wanted to do it in a way that emphasized what made it special for me. Teaching excellence is a clear priority for the department and I felt this would be a good way to rally support from alumni who shared this same experience. Engineering curriculum is a very dense subject and can too easily become textbook mechanics – CBE makes a genuine effort to teach the material so that it connects with the students.

Tell me a little about the endowment.

red book about chemical engineering
The Felder-Rousseau book that generations of chemical engineers used in college.

Everyone knows Dr. Richard Felder from his Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes book – for me it was more personal because I had the opportunity to take multiple classes with him. Dr. Felder recognized that we all learn differently and tried to teach students in ways that would connect with the individual. After speaking with fellow classmates who also took classes with Dr. Felder, we felt like the best way to show our appreciation of his impact on us was through an endowment to advance teaching excellence. The endowment funds an annual teaching excellence award to a selected faculty member for workshops, continuing education, new course development and classroom enhancement. I was fortunate to have 60+ alumni and faculty join me in supporting this endowment. The endowment is still open and I would encourage any CBE alumni interested in recognizing teaching excellence to join us.

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