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30 Under 30: Daniil Popov

 Daniil Popov






Age: 20
Vancouver, WA
*Click here to download our 30 Under 30 List*

Daniil Popov graduated at the top of his high school class in 2011 but wasn’t sure which way to turn after graduation. Daniil, who at the age of four had moved to Washington from Uzbekistan with his family, figured he would take a job in the family tile-setting business and help his parents with the bills. “I didn’t want my parents to have to pay for me to go to college,” he said.

However, his outlook changed completely after finishing an internship at the local Frito-Lay manufacturing plant in Vancouver, WA.

nConnect STEM Coach Manlio Castillo was the one who set Daniil up with the internship. “A career center specialist at my high school told me that since I was really good in math and science, I should meet a former mechanical engineer—Manlio Castillo,” Daniil recalls. “I met Manlio and started asking questions about engineering—the type of education he’d had, the difficulty of it, his experiences. The more I talked to him about it, the more interested I became.”

The internship opportunity soon followed.

Frito-Lay’s factory needed efficiency improvements to minimize waste generation. During his internship, Daniil worked with the site’s packaging specialist and other interns to minimize packaging waste at the food production lines. Daniil and others interns also learned Six Sigma processes and lean manufacturing.

Daniil verified that particular machines were running a minimal amount of waste and then recorded the program settings. He would then transfer those ideal settings to a spreadsheet to keep track of the code that makes the machine run more efficiently. This data was made available to subsequent manufacturing runs to ensure that the same recipe was being followed.

The result: because of Daniil and the other interns’ work, the company saved an estimated $400,000 by minimizing waste.

Through this experience Daniil realized that given the proper education and training, he could be doing this kind of analytical work for the rest of his life instead of breaking his back for much less money.

“I didn’t know exactly what I would be doing after high school,” Daniil recalled, “and through this internship I learned that engineering is something I want to pursue.”

He has just finished two years at Clark College and in the fall will enroll as a junior at Washington State University, where he’ll work toward a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

One thing that most people don’t appreciate about manufacturing is how it feels to be a part of such a group effort, according to Daniil. “There’s such a variety of people, each with a specific task that makes success possible,” Daniil noted: “In manufacturing, you understand the role you have in the process, and realize that without a combined effort, the process will fail.”

nConnect’s Manlio Castillo recommended Daniil for this 30 Under 30 recognition, writing that he believes that “with his analytical aptitude and inquisitive disposition, Daniil has great potential to lead the future in engineering and manufacturing.” ME

Published Date : 7/1/2013

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