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by Heather Starkey

This year, we sent 18 students to the TAPPI Student Summit in Portland, Maine, which included five Freshman! Portland got six inches of snow while we were there, and the coffee and hot chocolate may be the only reason we survived in such a cold environment. Nevertheless, we all had a fantastic time, we learned a lot, and networked like maine-iacs (I promise this is the last Maine pun).

Things to Learn in College

All of the presentations and information sessions were inspired by Bill Coplin’s book, 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College. CEOs, Vice Presidents, and Senior Consultants spoke to us about topics that ranged from how to be a good leader to making sure you make a good impression that will last a lifetime, after all it’s a small world in the paper industry! We had panel discussions to learn how to get the most out of our summer internships and how to transition into the “real world.” We even discussed how to apply our education in the industry by effectively presenting data and how we approach data logging systems.

tappi student summitOn the Lighter Side

We were able to tour a SAPPI mill that makes coated paper for applications such as dog food bags. This was definitely an eye-opening experience since most of us had never seen a coating operation before! And you can’t forget the infamous engineering competition. They challenged us to construct a cart out of cardboard, a dixie cup, napkins, and the provided wheels. The cart had to be rolled down a ramp at 35, 45, and 55 degrees and prevent an egg
from cracking. Everyone’s cart did so well, the moderators added a “freefall” category – that’s what they get for challenging engineers! In the end we had some wolfpackers take home both 1st and 2nd place.


This trip would not have been possible without the financial support from TAPPI, BioResources, International Paper, and the Pulp and Paper Foundation. We really appreciate your contributions.

I also would like to extend a special thank you to our chapter president, Joe McDonald, for working hard to organize the trip, and a thank you to Dr. Byrd and Jennifer Piercy for being awesome chaperones. If you’ve never been to the Student Summit before, I highly recommend going before you graduate. There’s no other professional development and networking event for students quite like this.