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Out of the Classroom and Into the Field

From DC to China to right here on campus, students in the Department of Forest Biomaterials got out of the classroom and into the field this summer to put their knowledge to work and gain hand-on experience.

Heather Starkey

I spent three months in Hualien, Taiwan this summer working in Chung Hwa Pulp Corporation’s Pulp Division at their Hualien Mill. I taught ~20 mill employees how to use WinGEMS (process modeling software specific for the paper industry). I also helped build a full mill process model that lets the creators learn more about the process and how everything is connected. This will also help them monitor mill production in regards to a baseline and allow the mill to see the impact of process changes without having to actually make changes in the process (which then allows them to compare different scenarios and prioritize projects and investments to maximize their returns).

Salonika Aggarwal

First I went to Savonlinna, a very beautiful and calm island. I visited WetEnd’s head office and research labs. I worked there for almost eight days. I got to know about their equipment and technologies and did some brainstorming about how we can we use their stuff for our research and bring the final product into market. Then I went sailing and had Finnish sauna. It was lot of fun. Next I visited Stora Enso’s paper mill and research centre, RCI Imatra. It was a great experience. Stora Enso has a very big paper mill. In RCI Imatra, lots of innovative research is going on. It was motivational and encouraged me to think something outside of the box. Finally my trip ended in Helsinki where I visited Stora Enso headquarters. It was huge and you can see all of Helsinki from its terrace. It encouraged me at lot. Stora Enso is mainly concerned about sustainable and renewable options for paper packaging. Lots of innovative research is going on in RCI Imatra, which impacted me positively. I learnt that I need to push myself and need to work hard. After visiting these big companies, I got a clear idea that I have to work a lot on myself, academically, professionally and personally. Now I know which industries I will be looking for and which area will be more interesting for me. This experience encouraged me to look for renewable options for every possible thing. As a CNR student, I will be looking for sustainable, renewable natural resources only. Initially, I was very scared to work with high profile and experienced people but fortunately they were very humble and nice. They helped me a lot. I think, if possible, every student should have this sort of experience.

Kat Santoro

I worked for BASF in Niagara Falls, NY as a Technical Sales Representative. I was responsible for monitoring and maintaining BASF’s chemicals in the mill, as well as assisting in various chemical trials. This experience allowed me to see a completely different facet of the paper industry than what I am used to seeing. I have never worked for a chemical supplier, nor have I ever had a sales-based internship, so seeing how important a supplier’s role is in paper production was a great experience. Taking on a new role allowed me to grow as a young professional, and that made the experience truly invaluable. Working for BASF provided me with lots of knowledge about wet-end chemistry, and this knowledge base will grow as I progress throughout my career. As with any new job you take, working with different people and using a different skill set makes you more ready to take on any career challenges that might come your way!

Matt Kollman and Derek Corbett

Derek Corbett and Matt Kollman participated in the NC State A2i Industry Immersion Week this summer. The week-long intensive program held on the NC State campus included activities and seminars from leaders of selected partner companies including Eastman Chemical, LORD Corporation, SAS, Google, and ABB, among others. Topics included leadership, project management, teamwork, graduate student career development, intra and entrepreneurship, and information about industrial careers for graduate students. Both Derek and Matt found the program to be highly beneficial to those looking to pursue an industrial career after graduation. The A2i program is unique in that it is designed to intelligently match graduate students that have certain skills with companies looking to hire graduates with those skills. For more information about the Industry Immersion Week and other A2i programs available at NC State, and to see how you can get involved, contact Dr. Jason Cramer of just ask Derek or Matt.

Xiao Jiang

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to intern for the Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio. I worked in the R&D department for tissue product front-end innovation. The things I learned from this internship are the importance of professional communication, networking, and balance between independence and teamwork.

Joe Sagues

This summer, I worked as a Technology-to-Market Scholar for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) in Washington, D.C. I had the fortune of working alongside some of the most successful clean energy innovators in the country, and I truly believe the experience shifted my career path toward one that is meaningful and rewarding. I have always been passionate about clean energy technology development, so the opportunity to work at ARPA-E was a dream come true. My project at ARPA-E was focused on decarbonizing the agricultural sector by designing and modeling an innovative process that integrates multiple cutting-edge technologies currently being funded by the Department of Energy. Ultimately, the process I designed converts air, water, and agricultural residue into ammonia fertilizer and high protein micro-algae animal feed on a modular scale and without any fossil fuel inputs. My main advisor at ARPA-E conducted research and development at Exxon Mobil for nearly 20 years, so his insight into clean energy development was out of the ordinary and highly valuable. As I continue my pursuit towards a PhD in the Department of Forest Biomaterials, part of the work I conducted at ARPA-E will be included in my dissertation. In addition, I will continue collaborating with the connections I made this summer to enhance the remainder of my PhD research. I would like to give a special thanks to my PhD advisors, Drs. Sunkyu Park and Hasan Jameel for granting me the opportunity to spend a summer away from NC State. I’m excited for what lies ahead!