First Impressions as Freshman
At the beginning of August 2016, I began my first co-op experience as a Paper Science and Engineering undergraduate with KapStone in North Charleston, SC. I felt sure that I knew enough to not be blown away by the paper mill, but not completely confident that I could help make a difference as a co-op. I was surprised by the enormity of the paper mill, it is the largest on my short list of mills I have seen. It always amazes me how a place this big could work together in harmony to create a nearly perfect end product. I soon learned how small incidents, in what may seem to be a totally unrelated process in the pulp mill, can have an effect on a property all the way at the reel. Soon I knew without a doubt that I had been prepared for my experience by Dr. Byrd and other faculty I have come in contact with just during my freshman year.
I have since then helped on many great projects at the North Charleston Mill and have been given such rewarding experiences. With just one PSE class under my belt, I was prepared to help with both large capital projects and minor optimization work. One thing I have lent a hand in has been yield enhancement at the mill. This has been a major project that is driven by sustainability and source reduction. I have had the pleasure to work with my supervisor on projects to improve strength-to-weight ratios of paper and paperboard that we produce. Another area I have helped is moisture spread and control optimization on the paper machines. It has been eye opening to see all the improvements constantly going on in the mill and how specific these tasks can be. It has taught me to be able to look at something small and then track its large implications for the mill and how that area can be optimized.
Excited for Future Opportunities
My problem solving skills have improved just by observing the skills of others at the mill and also putting mine to use in various situations. It has given me a greater appreciation how intelligent people have to work, to ensure that a paper mill runs well, and how great of a job our faculty at NC State does to prepare students for industry experiences. By applying basic knowledge of pulp and paper processes to my work, it has helped me build upon the foundation created by the faculty at NC State and fueled my excitement for future opportunities within the paper industry.
by guest blogger: Ryan Lee