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By Guest Blogger Sarah Sassorosi

I was lured into the Paper Science & Engineering program at NC State by the prospect of paid internships and co-ops offered to freshman.  I was told of all the opportunities: TAPPI Pre-Nights, PSE Career Fairs, and interviews that you just need to sign up for.  So just a month after arriving at school of my freshman year, I interviewed with four different companies and landed some great job opportunities.  In August I packed my bags and moved to Ashdown, Arkansas to co-op with Domtar.

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I can’t say enough positive things about my internship.  I was eased into the work and did some testing in the lab my first couple of weeks there.  However, once I was comfortable in the mill, I was assisting on large projects.  One such project resulted in nearly ¾ of a million dollars of cost reduction.  I worked closely with Senior Process Engineers and was included into the management team so much that I felt comfortable joking around with the Superintendent of the Pulp Mill.  This made me feel like a valued part of the engineering team and the mill!

One of the biggest aspects that stood out to me is how much time and effort Domtar employees put into developing interns and co-ops as a student and engineer-in-training.  I sat in on classes about additives and fillers, learned about turpentine from the company that makes turpentine recovery equipment, and my down-time was spent learning about the mill.  My favorite memory will definitely be when Tyson Pickard, a May 2013 PSE graduate, took me to see the inside of a recovery boiler during an outage.  I had learned about this huge piece of machinery in my PSE 201 (Pulping and Papermaking Technology) class, but suiting up to climb around inside of it not only helped me understand the reactions going on inside, but it was really fun.

I hope to take everything I’ve learned at Domtar back to my classes so I can have a real-world application perspective on the things I learn in class.  I can’t thank the company enough for the opportunity they’ve given me, and NC State Paper Science & Engineering for leading me to that opportunity.  I very excited to go back in an upcoming summer for another term working in Ashdown.  Go Pack!