Mailiis Metsis

Undergraduate student, Chemical Engineering

Mailiis Metsis is a chemical engineering student who’s just finished up a couple of co-op terms in the research and development laboratory of a surprising company: Estée Lauder.

When bench chemists create new formulas for, say, lipsticks, it’s up to chemical engineers like Mailiis to develop the manufacturing processes. What looks simple in a beaker may be difficult on the factory floor.

Mailiis was ready for that challenge. She had done similar work scaling up processes on a previous co-op term at an agricultural chemical R&D lab, and had studied process engineering in class. Still, she says, it’s co-op that brings it to life. “Things make so much more sense when you see them in real life. You walk onto the factory floor, and you see the production line, the big mixer. And you think: this is the little box I drew in class last term. Suddenly, it’s all real.”

So why take a skill that can go anywhere to Estée Lauder? “To be honest,” Mailiis says, “I applied for the job just because it sounded cool.” She worked mostly on MAC cosmetics: lipstick, eye shadow, and blush. Next term, she’ll take the same skills to pharmaceutical research at GlaxoSmithKline. Eventually, she wants to study food chemistry.

What do people say when they hear about her unusual employer? Mailiis smiles: “They say: can I get samples?”