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Pulp and Paper Engineers Shape the Future of Our Industry

Industry advocates like Ashdown Mill employee Jennifer Beard met with lawmakers, including Senator John Boozman. Image description: Jennifer Beard, an Ashdown Mill employee (on the left), is pictured with Senator John Boozman on the right. They are in a room with other people in the background.

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Forest products such as pulp, paper and lumber help shape the daily lives of people around the world. And pulp and paper engineers help shape those products by improving the projects and processes that drive innovation in our business and our industry.  

This Engineers Week, we’re highlighting the work of several pulp and paper engineers from the Paper Excellence group of companies: Domtar, Resolute and Paper Excellence Canada. Read on to learn more. 

Pulp and Paper Engineers Shape the Future of Our Mills

As a chemical engineering student, Melanie Howard hoped to launch a career in manufacturing, but she hadn’t narrowed it down to a particular industry. She landed a co-op position at Domtar’s Hawesville, Kentucky, mill and discovered an industry with limitless potential. 

“I was blown away by the complexity of the process and how much more there is to it than I could have ever imagined. I jumped at the opportunity to work here full-time,” Howard says. “Now, as an environmental engineer, I enjoy leading process improvement projects that help us reduce waste and leverage our byproducts in a sustainable way.” 

Plymouth Mill operations superintendent John Edwards has led efforts to reduce the amount of water used in the pulpmaking process. He currently represents Domtar as the chair of TAPPI’s Papermaking Technology and Operations Committee. In 2020, his commitment to making a positive impact on people through his work led to him being named a TAPPI Young Professional of the Year 

He’s also investing in the future of his profession by supporting recruiting efforts, partnering with the North Carolina Forestry Association to share how fluff pulp is made using sustainable wood fiber, and speaking at the recent TAPPI Student Summit. 

At Resolute Forest Products, Vanessa Simard is applying emerging technologies to support the digital transformation of the forest products industry. As an industrial engineer and a production planning and optimization supervisor at the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean (Quebec) operations, she has helped the company use artificial intelligence to improve manufacturing efficiency. 

Simard’s AI expertise led her to develop a prize-winning AI-based solution that dramatically reduces planning time for the lumber-drying process. The solution has since been deployed at several Resolute facilities. 

Engineers in Training (EIT) Shape Their Careers, Contribute to Industry Success

Paper Excellence Canada annually selects recent engineering graduates for their Engineer-in-Training (EIT) program. The 18-month rotational program gives emerging pulp and paper engineers a solid start to their careers and positions them for future success.  

EITs make important contributions to the industry from day one.  

  • At Meadow Lake Pulp, Engineer-in-Training (EIT) Attila Szanto is applying his chemical engineering knowledge through an anti-scalant trial on the mill’s evaporators.  
  • Nawaf Salem, an EIT at the Skookumchuck Mill, is leveraging his passion for sustainability to reduce the mill’s environmental impacts.  
  • At Howe Sound, EIT Asad Hayat is working on a project to optimize wood chip utilization and reduce waste. 

We’re Shaping the Future by Supporting Engineering Students

Every year, we hire engineering interns and co-op students across a range of disciplines, giving them real-world experience and the opportunity to have an impact on our business.  

“From Day 1, our interns and co-op students get involved in projects related to quality, optimization, continuous improvement, cost reduction and environmental practices – initiatives that can save the company millions of dollars,” says Talia Massey, who manages Domtar’s early career talent program. 

We also partner with North Carolina State University, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point and Laval University, among others, with scholarships and project grants for students interested in becoming pulp and paper engineers.  

Paper Excellence Canada established a reward fund at Vancouver Island University to support graduates of programs in Trades and Applied Technology, such as the university’s power engineering and process operator programs.  

Resolute offers multiple scholarships and grants that benefit pulp and paper engineers, including a C$70,000 annual research grant that brings together specialists with expertise in forestry engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering and information technology. 

Whether their field is mechanical, electrical, chemical or civil, pulp and paper engineering professionals solve problems and design solutions that produce long-term benefits that shape our future.   

Learn more 

If you want to help shape the future of the forest products industry, view our open engineering positions and internships on any of our career sites: