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Bart Nicholson graduated from NC State in 1981 with a B.S. in Pulp and Paper Technology.  We recently reached out to Bart to find out about his experiences here at NC State, his career and advice for current students.  Thanks for your time and your willingness to share.

Experience at NC State:

  • Summers of 1978 -1980 Working for Continental Forest Industries in my hometown of Hopewell, VA.
  • First year as 6th hand on no. 2 Linerboard paper machine, rotating shifts with the crew.
  • Second year as lab technician in the Technical Department working on various assignments with the staff.
  • Third year as intern with project assignments in the Pulp Mill, Recovery, Recausticizing and By-Products areas.

Favorite Class:

  • WPS Wood Chemistry with Dr. Josef Gratzl.  A brilliant man with considerable knowledge and experience, and one of the sincerely nicest people you could ever meet.
  • WPS Unit Operation Processes with Dr. Richard Cornell.  As Seniors we had him his 2nd year after 25 years in industry.  He was still tempering and adjusting to academia (and his expectations were a bit merciless), but his insights into the marketing, business and organizational sides of the companies were invaluable.
  • And of course the classes taught by Professor Hitchings, a giant in the Forest Products Industry.  We just could never get him to look anywhere but straight out the window while he lectured.  In two semesters I believe there was only one brave soul that interrupted him with a question.

Best Memory at State:

  • That’s a tough one, so many come to mind.  Let’s say my entire senior year.  I was newly married, and our class was pretty tight and did a lot together.
  • But seeing that “A” in Freshman Chemistry was pretty memorable also.

Worst Memory at State:

  • UNC’s Dudley Bradley stealing the basketball from Clyde “The Glide” Austin with 7 seconds left and dunking to beat us by one at the clock.  You’ve never heard 9,000 people go from full throat, to silent, so fast.  The fire hydrant outside of Reynolds Coliseum got a pretty good kick from me on the way out.


  • Student TAPPI, athletics, music, shooting pool, Foosball, Frisbee, backgammon.

Favorite part of PSE Program:

  • Learning the real-world application of the study during summer internships.
  • Being part of one of the top specialized Engineering programs in the country.

Most important thing PSE taught me:

  • The underpinning and platform upon which I could begin my real education in the industry., and it gave me the confidence to compete and achieve in the career marketplace.

Current career information:

  • I’m in a second career of sorts after 32 years in the Pulp & Paper Industry.

Years at current job:

  • In April 2013 my lengthy and gratifying career in the industry ended.  I reset, and relaunched.  I still do some industry consulting, but my calling now is toward domestic and international mission work, charitable organizations, marriage ministry and coaching, and pursuits as a small business owner and real estate investor.

What is your favorite part of your current job: 

  • Being involved in many different and varied pursuits, learning (always learning!), and having the freedom and availability to go where there is a need.

Biggest accomplishment in your career: 

  • Being part of successful integrations after two different company mergers.  These helped restore a healthy and competitive balance in the Pulp & Paper Industry.
  • Another would be leading the effort to conceive, initiate, and launch a paper converting & distribution business within southern China.  This was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Advise for Current Students

  • Show up and pay attention.  Whether in relationships, school or in your profession… be in the moment, with your full commitment.
  • When you enter the workplace, do the hard stuff and do it with excellence.  This will grow you, and increase your value to your employer.

Personal Information

  • Hometown: Hopewell, VA
  • Family: I’ve been married 36 years to my one true love.  We have three grown sons, one of whom is married and has given us the delight of our lives, our two-year old granddaughter!
  • Hobbies/interests: Charitable works, mentoring husbands and fathers, leading marriage workshops and classes, and of course my granddaughter and also, real estate investment and business management.

By guest blogger Tommy Keeshan