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Over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, a group of 47 NC State PSE students boarded a bus, and headed down to Charleston, S.C. for the annual TAPPI Student Summit. Upon arriving in Charleston on Friday evening, the students  had a chance to explore the area around the hotel and venture out for dinner. Many students enjoyed the local seafood at various restaurants around the neighborhood. On Saturday morning, students explored the city for brunch, attended interview etiquette roundtables, or participated in industry interviews.  The advisors and student chapter presidents had their roundtable lunches, and we all reconvened for the beginning of the programming in the early afternoon.

Industry 4.0

The opening, keynote speaker, Todd Grace of Andritz, gave a fascinating address on the implementation of new technologies within pulp and paper as part of “Industry 4.0”. He spoke about the growing importance of process control and the growing need for process control engineers. Andritz supplies process technologies and equipment for a variety of different industries, including pulp and paper, and is currently on the cutting edge for some of the new cloud-based technologies. The keynote address prompted many interesting questions that sparked conversations among students and industry professionals alike.

Professional Development and Networking Time

After the keynote address, students attended a panel regarding what companies are looking for in new hires and attended a networking fair with many different representative companies. Both of these events gave students valuable opportunities to expand their knowledge of the industry, and develop professionally. After a day of networking and learning about process control, the evening was free for students to relax and see more of the city. Saturday night, Caraustar sponsored an outing at The Alley – a bowling alley/arcade combination – which provided an opportunity to hang out with new and old friends in a relaxed environment.

Sunday morning began with breakout sessions in two different tracks (for underclassmen and upperclassmen), including two levels of BASF color school, a panel on how to get the most out of your internships and co-ops, and a lecture on process controls.

Engineering Competition

After a quick lesson on team-building, the much anticipated engineering competition began. This year, the competition involved building a bridge from only corrugated board, a crayon, and masking tape. The bridge had to span a certain distance, and meet a series of tests, including a toy car being pulled across it, supporting weights at different positions, withstanding water being poured on it, and continuing to support weight after being doused with water. The engineering competition is always a fun way to collaborate with students from different schools and combine your knowledge to achieve something in a pressuring situation.  After the engineering competition, there were more panels and the opportunity to bounce between tables to discuss different conversation topics with experts and students alike.

Industry Tours

Sunday morning, students packed up and headed outside the city to Georgetown, S.C. for our mill tour with International Paper, Georgetown. The Georgetown mill is fully integrated, and our tour encompassed the pulp mill, bleach plant, and paper machines. We split into multiple groups and were led around by young engineers who were able to answer many questions and show us some very interesting technologies. The visit ended with lunch and a panel of mill employees answering questions and giving advice. Everyone deeply appreciated the time and effort of the IP employees who organized and gave our tour.  Other schools toured KapStone Paper and Packaging and Kemira Chemicals.

This Summit was a great experience for all the attendees, filled with professional development, new friendships, and lots of fun. It is a yearly event that students look forward to.  2019 Student Summit will be held in Kalamazoo, M.I…see you their!

By guest blogger Lindsay Leonard