Major: Bioprocess Engineering
Graduation date: May 2017
Hometown: Mattydale, NY
You’re sorting through a giant list of colleges and ESF comes up. There are two majors on the list which sound interesting but you have no clue what they are: Paper Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering. Your first year in college is an important one, so choosing a major you are happy in and excited for is key. Paper Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering are two of the most challenging, but rewarding majors on campus with several opportunities. Here are a few tips that I feel are key in helping you choose one of these awesome majors that will help with your first year of college!
1. What is Paper and Bioprocess Engineering?
Paper Engineering is exactly what you would expect. This major teaches you the process of paper making and trains you with both an on campus paper mill and with internships in real paper mills. Bioprocess Engineering is a major with many possibilities. It has many different descriptions but I like to say it is a chemical engineering degree with a twist. I chose Bioprocess Engineering because of all of the possibilities within the major. You have job opportunities ranging from working in a paper mill, working in ethanol or bio-diesel production, a brewery, or even bio-medical research. Both majors have a high demand, which many of our graduates having a job right out of college.
2. Clubs are essential to college life
In your first few weeks, you’ll be trying to make as many friends as possible, but the real fun starts when you join clubs. During the fall and spring there is the Student Activities Fair. ESF is a really cool school simply due to the fact that we have so many clubs. Not only does joining a club give you the chance to have a break from school work, but many clubs go on trips, have special events, and even free food-which you’ll find is a very important part to college life! The best part though is the bonding you get with everyone being in a group with the same hobbies and goals as you do. Our department is home to the Paper and Bioprocess Engineering club, or PBE club. The PBE club hosts many events such as a trip to Sky Zone, department barbeques, and we get to travel to conventions like the TAPPI (Technological Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry) Student Summit every year, which was held in Savannah, Georgia.
3. Scholarships and internships, oh my!
The Syracuse Pulp and Paper Foundation (SPPF) is a key group to our department. The foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the PBE department. SPPF allows our department and club to thrive. They help pay for our trips and help bring in internships to students. An important part of the department is that SPPF provides a yearly scholarship for our Paper Engineering students. This keeps costs low and encourages our students to pursue careers in the paper industry. All in all, they help us out a lot!
4. The hidden building: Walters Hall
Walters is the home building of the PBE department. This is where you will spend most of your class time at ESF since this building is strictly dedicated to our department. In the basement of the building, there is a full scale paper mill where our students do paper runs. There is also a Bio refinery in the back where biodiesel is made for the campus community. Research is always going on and it is very easy to get involved. Professors love to have student involvement and sometimes it is just as easy as one email. For me, I sent an email on Tuesday and I was in a research lab that Friday.
5. We’ll show you the ropes
As soon as you move on to campus, you get to be a part of the First Year Orientation. It is a fun few days where you get to learn about the campus and get to know your fellow classmates, but PBE seminar has got that beat. All students on campus have to take an additional orientation seminar their first year with their major. Fortunately, ours is the coolest. Not only do you learn the “ins and outs” of campus life, but we also go on field trips! It’s like elementary school all over again, except instead of visiting a boring museum, we get to visit Anheuser Busch and Rock Tenn Paper Mill. So prepare to bring some T-shirts and a fan because by the time you’re done, you’ll be happy you have air conditioning in the dorms.
6. Professors are your best resource
Just because your teachers go from the title Mr. or Mrs. to Doctor, don’t let that scare you. Yeah, they’ve had a few extra years of college and research under their belt, but they are still average people and should be reached out to. Our department is unique in that most of our professors come from diverse backgrounds and are the top innovators in their fields. Getting to know your professors is great because not only are they very knowledgeable in their field, but they are very helpful in networking, research opportunities and writing letters of recommendation (which you will need for future jobs/internships). All of our professors are super friendly and ready to help you in any way. That above is Dr. Scott, he is the department chair for PBE. You will see him a lot, and quickly learn that he is a big fan of the Green Bay Packers. He even has a giant cheese head in his office!
7. Small class sizes are not a bad thing
When you walk over to Syracuse University you will see that their lecture halls are huge. We are lucky that at ESF your largest class will be roughly 150 students, and it’s only expected to get smaller from there. Our department is small to begin with. When I entered, our program enrollment was 55 students. This may sound low but this is a benefit to you since this means more one on one time with professors and you really get to know your fellow classmates. One of the downsides of being in the PBE department is that since we are so small, a lot of our classes have only one section, so that equals a lot of 8 am classes. The plus side to that though, is that we get all of our classes out of the way early so that the rest of the day is free for all sorts of activities!
8. Do your homework on time and preferably, early
I can’t stress this enough: Do your homework on time or early! In the PBE department, we start our first year off with some difficult classes, and if you were like me in high school, the phrase “due on Tuesday” really translated to “do on Tuesday”. You won’t want to do that here. In fact, the sooner you do your homework, the sooner you can be free to do the clubs you joined in tip #2. If you are having trouble understanding a class, there is a free tutoring service in Moon Library at the Academic Success Center that is free to you. I spent a lot of my time there when I was first trying to get the hang of things in college.
9. “We’re the three best friends that anyone can have…” – The Hangover
Remember how I said teachers are your most valuable resource? A close second is your friends. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am in this department if it wasn’t for all of my friends and their support. Not only will friends help you when you are feeling down or invite you over to have awesome movie nights, but they are your biggest help outside the classroom. Students in the PBE department are all very close. Since we are one of the smaller departments on campus, we get many opportunities to really get to know each other.
And finally for #10…
Remember that the college years are the best years of your life, so make the most of it! If you are spending more time in your dorm room doing nothing than you are doing homework or hanging with friends, then you are doing it wrong. ESF has so much to offer, especially to first year students so please take advantage of everything! This department is why I love my college so much. If it wasn’t for the PBE department and Bioprocess Engineering, I wouldn’t have the friends, knowledge, and none of my future goals would be coming true. I wish you the best of luck on your college quest!
Good luck and I hope to see you soon at SUNY ESF!