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Q&A with N.C. State Paper Science and Engineering Junior Michael McKenzie

Michael McKenzie

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A total of 208 students are enrolled in the N.C. State Paper Science and Engineering program, and Paperitalo Publications was able to catch up with Michael McKenzie, a junior in the program and we asked him a few questions about his experiences at N.C. State.

Paperitalo:What attracted you to the Paper Science and Engineering program?

McKenzie: As an undecided engineering student when I started at NC State, I was looking into all the different programs to see which one would fit me best. When I came across Paper Science and Engineering, I noticed their job placement and scholarships available; these were very enticing to me. I reached out to Jennifer Piercy about the program and she advised me to sign-up for two introductory courses my freshman year. In those courses I was able to get a little bit of an inside look into what Paper Science is all about. The industry involvement, applicable learning material, and family atmosphere really solidified me wanting to be in the NCSU Paper Science and Engineering program.

Paperitalo: Were you looking into pulp and paper when you were in high school?

McKenzie: No, when I was in high school I just knew I wanted to go to school for a field that was related to math and science, so naturally I chose to pursue engineering. It wasn't until after choosing to attend NC State for engineering that I started to look into pulp and paper.

Paperitalo: Tell us about the internships and/or co-ops you have had.

McKenzie: I have had two summer internships, the first being with GAF at their fiberglass mat plant in Chester, SC, and the second with Greif at their linerboard and medium plant in Riverville,VA. Having these internships has helped develop me as an engineer and as an adult. These internships have allowed me to get experience that I cannot find while in school. They have also forced me to become more independent and learn how to transition better into adulthood.

Paperitalo:What does this program meant to you?

McKenzie: The Pulp and Paper program at NC State means a lot to me, the program prepares you for life after college like no other program in the nation. The faculty teach you material that is applicable to the industry, but on top of that they teach you invaluable life lessons that you are able to take beyond college and into the "real world". The faculty and PSE alumni show so much care for the students and are always available to give guidance or advice.

Paperitalo: Where do you see yourself in 5 and 10 years, and what are your career aspirations?

McKenzie: This is a difficult question for me to answer; I see a lot of different paths for myself. I am still not sure whether I would like to work as a mill engineer or a sales representative for a supplier. In either position I hope to take opportunities to move into a position of leadership. In 5 years, hopefully I have figured out which part of the industry I plan to immerse myself in. In 10 years, I would hope to be in management for whichever company I may end up working for.

Paperitalo: What would you recommend to anyone interested in Pulp and Paper?

McKenzie: I would recommend for them to take some paper science classes to see if they enjoy the program. I understand that paper science is not for everyone, but students who take the leap into the program typically do not regret it. As a 17- or 18-year-old it is hard to know what you really want to do with your life and limiting yourself to one industry can be scary. However, within the industry there is so much diversity in what you can do. Joining the pulp and paper family will be one that you will not regret.

Paperitalo: Please tell us what year you are in the program, your hometown, and anything interesting you might do in your free time.

McKenzie: I am a Junior in the program and I am from Raleigh, North Carolina. In my time outside of school and school organizations I enjoy spending time with my friends. We tend to play video games and go to events on campus when we are together. I played football growing up and into high school, and so I love to attend our football games or spend my weekends watching the NFL in the fall and winter.


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