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Student Spotlight: Megan Tardoni of Minnesota

Megan Tardoni

At the University of Minnesota, the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering (BBE) discovers and teaches solutions for the sustainable use of renewable resources and the enhancement of the environment.

Its graduates work in conventional and emerging bio-based industries, food and bioprocessing industries, and firms and agencies focused on environmental protection and improvement, such as:

  • Biobased composites
  • Biofuels
  • Biotechnology
  • Building materials
  • Environmental impact assessment mitigation
  • Food processing
  • Paper
  • Nanotechnology
  • Renewable energy
  • Renewable materials
  • Water quality
Megan Tardoni is a student in the program, and she shares some of her experiences at Minnesota.

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

I'm a senior in Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering (BBE) at the University of Minnesota. I'm from Rosemount, MN, a suburb of the Twin Cities. In my free time, I enjoy doing anything outdoors! This includes hiking, camping, biking, and tennis. I'm also currently learning piano in my spare time.

What attracted you to the Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering program?

I found that BBE combined my interest in engineering with my passion for sustainability. The program focuses on bio-based renewable resources which are incredibly important in the world's fight against climate change. Additionally, I had a deep interest in the processes of manufacturing these types of materials.

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

Like many others, I had a much different idea in high school of what I wanted to do. Up until about junior year, I planned to be a lawyer. My great-grandfather worked as a chemist in a rayon pulp mill, and I knew some of the bigger mills in Minnesota, but other than that I wasn't aware of opportunities in the pulp and paper industry.

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

My first internship was with Seagate where I worked on water conservation and energy efficiency projects. I learned a lot about project management and the work required to keep a large manufacturing facility running. Then, in my junior year, I attended my first TAPPI Student Summit and secured an internship with Jacobs for the following summer. I worked as a process engineer designing and optimizing production processes for a client. This opportunity was in South Carolina, so I got to experience living in a new state all by myself for the first time!

What does this program mean to you?

I feel incredibly grateful that I found BBE coming into college. I joined for the curriculum but found even more through my wonderful classmates and professors. We have relatively small class sizes, meaning our community is close-knit. I'm able to have a personal relationship with everyone in my class and my professors -- not many students at such a large university can say the same. I feel like this has strengthened my learning and personal growth, along with making classes more enjoyable.

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

This summer I'll be starting as a process engineer for WestRock at their mill in Hopewell, VA. I'm really looking forward to kickstarting my full-time career in the pulp and paper industry through this opportunity. I find people leadership and team-focused work to be incredibly rewarding. Eventually, I'd like to get involved in leadership opportunities at the mill, and potentially get my MBA to further advance my management skills.

What would you recommend to anyone who might be interested in getting into pulp and paper?

As a student, my biggest suggestion would be to take advantage of the student-focused communities in the pulp and paper industry. My involvement began with joining our TAPPI/PIMA Student Chapter at my university, which I am now the president of. Through this organization, I've been able to network with many different industry and academic professionals in the field. A highlight of this has been attending the TAPPI Student Summit, where I've connected with peers from other universities and had interviews that lead to my internships and full-time positions. Overall, it's a great place to start if you're an interested student.


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