Paper Science and Engineering (PSE) super stars Kim Abrams and Jayme Currie will welcome 24 high school juniors and seniors to the inaugural Paper Science and Engineering (PSE) Camp. Much more than just PSE Camp Counselors, Abrams and Currie will lead students in technical hands-on lab experiences throughout the week, in addition to taking summer classes, participating in undergraduate research and developing specific programs for the PSE camp courses that will be used for other undergraduate curricula. These students are engaged leaders that represent the spirit of the PSE program.
“They are serving in a very technical role and have had a very large impact on what is being taught at this camp,” said Jennifer Piercy, Director of Student Recruiting for Paper Science and Engineering. “They have been guided by the faculty, but in essence are really taking the ball and running with it. I think this is exceptional.”
Get to know Abrams and Currie, both Chemical and Paper Science double majors.
What is your role in Summer Camp and why did you want to participate?
- Kim Abrams (KA): There is so much that the world doesn’t know about the paper industry, but being able to teach students and other people about how the science works, it’s amazing how opinions can change on the spot. The PSE department is very excited to host all students for this camp and I wanted to participate with summer camp to ensure that all incoming students have a fun and exciting time in the PSE department. My role as a summer camp counselor is helping with the labs and teaching the students about numerous topics that can relate to the real world. Along with summer camp, I am also doing research on different coatings for packaging materials that hold food or other everyday materials.
Jayme Currie (JC): I have been working closely with Dr. Richard Venditti to develop a series of fun and interactive activities to educate campers about sustainability and life cycle analysis. When I am not assisting with Camp, I am working as an undergraduate researcher for Dr. Venditti. Right now I am working to get our Kneader up and running because it has been sitting in storage for 10+ years. My job is to find out how the machine works and run tests to see what conditions should be used in order to get the optimal results in our finished product. After getting the machine running, I will create a manual, which will teach others how to use the machine to remove ink particles without the use of chemicals and to improve the smoothness of products made from recycled office waste.
I wanted to be involved with PSE Camp so that I could share my passion for PSE with high school students. I was originally introduced to the department through interactions with PSE students at events directed toward high school students, like Engineering Open House. Being able to speak to people who had been in my shoes just years before was very influential in my choice to join this department, so I hope to have the same type of impact on these students.
What do you hope will happen as a result of camp?
- JC: I hope that all of our campers will leave with a completely new outlook on the Pulp and Paper Industry. If they are anything like I was, the thought of working in a paper mill may have never crossed their minds. However, I hope that by taking part in our interactive labs throughout the week they will begin to see that the paper industry has much more to offer than just copy paper. Students are going to have the opportunity to learn about the many ways that the industry affects our daily lives while also getting a taste of what the future holds by learning about biofuels, sustainability and life cycle analysis.
Why would you recommend your major to incoming students?
- KA: I would recommend PSE to any incoming freshmen looking for a place to not just be a number in a department, but being able to have strong relationships between your peers and professors. The close family that PSE provides is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. Even if you decide that PSE is not the path you want to embark on, you can always say you tried it. But I promise, you won’t be disappointed! The abundance of opportunities that PSE delivers is incomparable to other departments, including paid internships and co-ops and leadership positions.
- JC: For any students coming to NC State to major in Chemical Engineering, I would strongly encourage them to consider doing the dual degree with PSE. Not only does PSE offer amazing scholarships, but you are exposed to so many opportunities that other engineering majors do not have that will help you develop as an engineer and eventually stand out from the masses when it comes time to find a job. Examples include, networking events, student summits, in-house job recruiting and interviewing, and lots of free food! Also, because there are so few students in each class, you have the opportunity to really get to know your peers and professors.
Tell us about some of your internship, co-op or work-study experiences.
- KA: The summer of my sophomore year I worked in Oxford, AL for National Gypsum working in all parts of the 100 percent Old Corrugated Cartons (OCC) plant. Here I got to work on a large upgrade capital project including traveling to the corporate headquarters to meet with potential vendors. The summer of my junior year I worked in Fernandina Beach, FL on Amelia Island for Rayonier Advanced Materials. Here I worked in the bleach plant on an optimization project to save the company money on utilities.
Why do you feel that the College of Natural Resources has prepared you for life after graduation?
- KA: I think CNR has prepared me very well for life after graduation, not only by giving me opportunities to work for different companies, but also by being there for me for life decisions and general life advice. After graduation, I plan to work in some sort of packaging facility. My dream job would be to work for a company supplying packaging for the food industry.
Anything else you’d like to say about PSE?
- KA: Nothing will ever beat the feeling of walking through the doors of PSE and being welcomed by everyone I came in contact with. I started at NC State as a Polymer and Color Chemistry major, but when I decided that was not my life calling, PSE came to me with open arms. I never looked back once I felt so welcomed by the PSE family.
- JC: Joining PSE has been one of the best decisions I have made. Choosing this major was more like joining a big family. All of the students and staff genuinely care about each other and that is clearly reflected in the work that they do both in the classroom and throughout the community.