Not Your Average Summer: Investigating Wood Products Challenges
Melzer Morgan IV is a junior majoring in sustainable materials and technology and minoring in environmental sciences, business administration and graphic communications. This summer, Morgan is working as a technical analyst in the Hodges Wood Products Laboratory at the NC State College of Natural Resources.
Opened in 1960, the Hodges Wood Products Laboratory is a 21,000-square-foot facility outfitted with the latest woodworking tools, small-scale industrial equipment, testing machines and instrumentation for investigating the properties of wood, forest biomaterials and energy products. We recently spoke with Morgan about his internship experience and what he’s learned so far. Check it out below.
What kinds of things have you been doing as part of the internship?
Through this position, I am responsible for using industry standards to test various types of flooring including laminate, composite, engineered and solid wood. This includes cutting, breaking, scratching and staining the products in addition to visual and technical analysis. The position also allows me to work with industry partners to develop standards for emerging wood flooring products.
How did you find out about this internship and why were you interested in it?
I was introduced to this position through connections that I had at the wood lab and within the Department of Forest Biomaterials. I was interested in gaining hands-on experience within the department and working in a laboratory. I had previous experience with wood products from prior work experiences, so it was easy to adapt to the industry. I am also able to mold my work hours around my class schedule and combine classroom learning with work experience.
In what ways did the College of Natural Resources prepare you?
The College of Natural Resources prepared me for my internship through professional development and hands-on experiences. A majority of these experiences came from the Environmental First-Year Program that I participated in during Fall 2019. It enabled me to gain further understanding of a professional work environment and build connections with the college.
What new skills or information have you learned during your internship?
Through the internship I have been able to grow my understanding of a laboratory environment and expand my knowledge of woodworking. I am now confident in my ability to perform industry-standard tests such as ISO, NEMA, NALFA and more.
What are your long-term goals, career plans and how does this internship factor in?
After graduation, I plan to search for a job in my industry that features hands-on work and sustainable development. I plan to use other internships and work experiences in addition to my current position to further narrow my search in the job market. Nonetheless, I already feel more than prepared to graduate and find a career. My current internship allows me to build connections within the flooring industry and gain experience in a professional work environment.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned while at NC State?
NC State has provided me with more lessons than I can count, from sustainable living to the importance of keeping an umbrella on you while walking through campus. All of the things I have learned will continue to shape who I am but the thing that stood out to me the most is that every activity, task and conflict can be solved with a thoughtful amount of thinking and a generous amount of doing. I have greatly appreciated the knowledge and life skills that I have gained during my two years here and look forward to what I will learn during the next two years.