OXFORD, Ohio -- The Paper Science & Engineering Foundation at Miami University was founded in 1960 through the donations of several local paper mills and corporations who wanted to ensure the education of future paper engineers.
The foundation continues to actively work with students in the paper science and engineering program at Miami University. Paperitalo Publications was able to catch up with Dylan Shumway, a May 2021 graduate of the program. We asked him a few questions about his experiences at Miami.
What attracted you to the Paper Science and Engineering program?
At Miami while working on my Mechanical Engineering degree, I had to take multiple classes in manufacturing. These classes exposed me to machinery that allowed me to make more sophisticated projects than I had worked on in previous years. This exposure led me to make the realization I wanted to work on large-scale machinery which would be much more advanced and force me to think and make complicated engineering decisions. Paper Engineering was a way to guarantee I would be able to make it into an industry that had the machinery I was interested in. The fact that I could have professor-guided education on specific industry topics instead of going in and trying to learn on the fly was an opportunity I could not pass up. Additionally, with the support of the Paper Science & Engineering Foundation at Miami I did not have to go through the job hunt alone, but rather was able to use the network of the department to help find employment.
Were you looking into pulp and paper when you were in high school?
In high school I was familiar with Miami's Paper Engineering program due to a family friend of mine graduating from the program, but I was not completely sure what Paper Engineering really entailed. After being given a tour of the department in high school, seeing the Miami's paper machine, and walking through the Paper testing lab, I realized that there was a deeper science to be explored in paper, but I did not see how my interests in Mechanical Engineering would fit with the program. It took until the Spring semester of my sophomore year, after taking manufacturing engineering classes, to see how I could fit into the paper industry and join the program.
Tell us about the internships and co-ops you have had.
While at Miami University I had one internship and one co-op. My internship following my sophomore year was as a visiting student research intern at KAIST, an engineering school in South Korea. While in South Korea, during the week I would work with a team of Korean professors on smart-material research being used to try to simulate the human pulse. On the weekends I was encouraged to travel across the country, each weekend experiencing a different city within South Korea to get an immersive cultural experience. From this internship, I was then able to publish 2 conference papers, and present at the international SMASIS conference to smart-material experts.
My co-op experience was a 7-month span working at ND Paper in Biron, WI as a Mechanical Engineering Co-op. During my Co-op, the mill was working to convert one of their paper machines from magazine paper to paper for boxes. Given all the work going on in the mill, I was given relatively large capital projects around the mill to help do design-work for and then manage the construction and implementation of the project. This industry specific project proved to me that I had a passion for the paper industry and played a major role in determining the full-time jobs I applied for.
What does this program mean to you?
Joining the Paper Engineering program at Miami was one of the best decisions I made. Engineering is a tough major to graduate with, but with the smaller size of the paper program, I have been able to bond with many of the other students and we help each other succeed at the different challenges both coursework and life bring. I have developed long-term friendships with many of my peers and even became roommates with a couple of the other students. The professors of the program are all very knowledgeable when it comes to the industry and do a great job of making sure we understand the material being given to us. Lastly, the support from the foundation has ensured that I never miss an employment opportunity within the industry and stay up to date in the paper industry. When I was having second thoughts while applying for full-time positions, I was able to talk with Gary Rudemiller, the Executive Director of our Foundation, and he asked questions about what I wanted to do with my career and where I wanted to be, and then helped place me at a company that aligned with what I wanted.
Where do you see yourself in five and ten years, and what are your career aspirations?
Starting in June, I will begin a full-time position with a paper company as a PM project engineer. This position will allow me to work on projects of all sizes in not only the mill I was hired for, but also in mills across the country. I am excited to gain experience in a wide range of projects to keep an interesting and changing workload. For the next 5-years, I see myself working in this position to get a good feel of the industry and of my new company. Beyond this is still to be decided. There are many different positions within the paper industry, and I feel after my initial experience I may discover a new interest. I would like to continue to stay within my expertise, but also do whatever it is I find to be satisfying with my career, and I believe as I explore the industry, I will find what it is I truly want to work on.
What would you recommend to anyone who might be interested in getting into pulp and paper?
To anyone that is interested in getting into pulp and paper engineering, I would suggest looking into the different programs offered around the country in the subject and then reaching out to the people that run those programs. By reaching out, you can be referred to others who were recently in your same position but now have some experience and could help guide you through your next steps. There are so many different roles within the paper industry such as process engineering, operations, capital projects, maintenance, and reliability to name a few and all come with their own challenges that you may find interesting. Talking with students, professors, recent graduates of the program, and others could help provide relatable and helpful information to getting a career started in a fascinating industry.
Please tell us what year you are in the program, your hometown, and anything interesting you might do in your free time.
I am a May 2021 graduate of Miami University with a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Paper Engineering. My hometown is Oxford, Ohio where Miami University is located, though I have recently moved closer to Columbus, Ohio after accepting a full-time position at Sofidel, a tissue manufacturer. During my free time I love to play frisbee golf on the weekends to unwind from stressful weeks, and mess around with different at-home projects such as building and flying RC model airplanes.
Editor's Note: Click here for more on the Miami PS&E foundation.