Graduation to Vocation: Mixing Fields and Materials in a Paper Mill

Sam Melikian is graduating with an undergraduate degree in Paper Science and Engineering with a minor in Business Management. He will soon be moving to Little Falls, New York to work at Twin Rivers Paper as well as coaching the local school wrestling team.

How has the College of Natural Resources impacted you and prepared you for your future?

CNR has had an enormous influence on preparing me for my future and career. There are so many resources throughout the college whether it be career fairs, interview resources, or just having a professor or faculty member around to talk with. The Paper Science and Engineering program, in particular, has helped prepare me for all aspects of my job, including ethics, environmental concerns, engineering problems, and capital investment analysis.

Student near the Niagara FallsWhat is unique about your work?

Every day in a paper mill is unique. New challenges arise, new opportunities are available, and the industry is constantly changing. I think working as a process engineer in a paper mill is an interesting mix of various fields- environmental, business, and many engineering aspects. I’ve also found that most people in the mills I’ve worked at will go out of their way to answer any questions I have and educate me on areas of the mill or the papermaking process that they are particularly knowledgeable in.

What motivated you to pursue your work?

I really liked all the faculty and students I met that were in the PSE department when I was exploring which engineering degree to pursue. I sensed immediately that the PSE department is a tight-knit community. Dr. Byrd, in particular, struck me as one of the most passionate and motivated individuals I have ever met, and I wanted to be in a program where I could surround myself with students and professors like him. I knew that the PSE program was the best place for me to obtain a degree that would provide me with an enjoyable, impactful, and rewardable career.

What advice would you give students entering your major or field?

Take every opportunity you have to broaden your knowledge outside of your academic work. Read books for fun, stay up to date on current events, listen to podcasts. While your college years are a great time to have fun, they also provide a great opportunity to learn as much as you can about anything that interests you or that may help you further your career and expand your interests.