Erika Militch

2020 STEP Ahead Honoree

Lead Process Engineer

Each day in industry is an opportunity to solve new problems, eliminate old ones, learn from mentors, ideate new growth and be exposed to diverse career paths.  Life in manufacturing guarantees you leave work each day a better engineer – and continuous personal improvement is a necessary part of loving my job!

Erika is an engineer who does not let her title define her. At AdvanSix’s plant in Hopewell, Virginia, she is known for tackling any job to make a project successful, even one that’s technically “not her job.” As lead process engineer, one of her recent assignments was a complex project to produce a new specialty chemical. Erika seamlessly assumed a role as floor production engineer to assist plant operators and then helped run plant trials before stepping into her assigned role of designing the process, sizing and specifying new equipment and supporting systems. She simultaneously assumed an environmental role, making sure any waste generated during product changeovers was minimized and that all parameters were documented and included in an operating permit. Finally, she worked with the business team to optimize the design.  Throughout the entire process, she used her stellar communication skills to keep everyone on the same page.

Over her 12 years at AdvanSix, Erika has helped many young female engineers and potential engineers navigate a predominantly male field through both formal and informal mentoring. Recently she was able to reassure a chemical engineering student who had concerns about working while (someday) raising a family. The student had not seen many examples of working mothers in STEM fields. Erika, a mother of twins, shared her own experience and provided contact information for other working mothers with STEM-based responsibilities at AdvanSix. Within her organization and beyond, Erika makes helping other “mothers of multiples” a priority—especially those in need.

Erika is a regular participant in career days in her community, pushing STEM awareness at both elementary and high school levels. She also hosts school tours of the AdvanSix plant, where she excels at translating complicated processes and concepts into language the students can easily understand.