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Valeria Huarote standing in the manufacturing plant of Keurig Dr. Pepper at their Knoxville location

Student Spotlight: Valeria Huarote

My name is Valeria Huarote, and I am a sophomore studying chemical engineering with a minor in engineering management. Currently, I am on a full-year co-op with Keurig Dr. Pepper at their Knoxville plant, where I serve as an intern on the Focused Improvement Team.

Keurig Dr Pepper is a leading beverage company in North America, boasting a diverse portfolio of more than 125 owned, licensed, and partner brands. With powerful distribution capabilities, they ensure that there’s a refreshing beverage for every need, anytime, anywhere. The Knoxville plant is part of the “hot side” of Keurig Dr Pepper. Here, the focus is on producing Keurig pods, those convenient little capsules that bring coffee and other beverages to life. As an intern on the Focused Improvement Team, my projects and assignments are focused on improving the efficiency and quality of the production process.

Being my first internship and my initial exposure to a manufacturing plant, I have been deeply impressed by the inner workings of various departments within the facility. From production lines to quality control, each facet significantly contributes to the overall manufacturing process. So far, I’ve collaborated with various machine manufacturers, conducting thorough audits and inspections. This process helps assess the condition of each machine and identify necessary fixes to optimize their performance. Moreover, my hands-on work on the floor alongside operators and maintenance personnel is crucial. By delving into the root causes of issues, I’m ensuring that problems are not just patched up but completely eliminated.

The Lean Six Sigma mindset—which emphasizes efficiency, waste reduction, and continuous improvement—has been particularly enlightening. As I delve deeper into this methodology, I am discovering how it streamlines processes, enhances productivity, and ensures top-notch quality. I am committed to absorbing these principles, as they will undoubtedly serve me well in my future endeavors.

I am grateful for this co-op opportunity with Keurig Dr Pepper. Meeting the incredible individuals who work here has been a highlight. They’ve not only been exceptional mentors but have also patiently imparted essential knowledge. The team I’m part of is truly wonderful; their genuine concern for my co-op experience is heartwarming. As I look ahead, I am eager to see the impact I’ll make during my time here.

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