Submitted: Kathi Rowzie March 11, 2021
The Paper Science & Engineering Foundation at Miami University has been partnering with the Paper program at the university since 1960. The program started in 1957, and in its various forms over the years has graduated over 1500 students skilled to enter the paper industry. The Foundation is among more than a dozen educational institutions and organizations that are members of Two Sides.
The mission of the Foundation is to attract quality engineering students into the paper discipline as the source of future leaders for the paper industry. Executive Director Dr. Gary Rudemiller and Assistant Director Julie Bischoff work closely with the Executive Committee to strategize and execute the mission of the Foundation.
In fact, the tagline for the Foundation is “Transforming Students into Leaders for Industry.”
“Our students today are very conscious of sustainability in their personal lives, and want to know that their industry of choice also is committed to sustainability,” Rudemiller says. “At Miami, we educate the students on all sustainability aspects of the paper industry. Two-Sides is invaluable as a source of facts and data to counter the negative information about the industry that is frequently misstated or based on erroneous data. We share Two Sides information with students to broaden their knowledge of sustainability’s key role in the paper industry – in operational practices, product design and business models.”
The Foundation’s 38 member companies find real value in supporting the students through scholarships, work experiences (internships and co-ops), and permanent employment upon graduation. These companies actively engage with the students to provide professional development opportunities to complement their academic exploits. Nearly every student leaves Miami with at least one work experience with the industry.
The Foundation has an active body of stakeholders who volunteer to serve on one of the Foundation’s 10 committees which are active throughout the year. These stakeholders may work for a member company or be a graduate of the Paper program, or simply be an interested party that wants to support the mission of the Foundation.
Around 90 students enjoy personal attention from the professors in the Paper program, and the intimacy of such a cohesive program builds a unique bond within the community of Paper students. Lifelong friendships are made as a consequence of the team-oriented projects that are frequently sponsored by industry.
For example, every other year Professor Steve Keller leads a group of about 20 students on a month-long trip to Europe to tour paper mills and equipment manufacturer sites, study at the Graz University of Technology in Austria, and enjoy the local culture.
Professor Doug Coffin spearheads an effort on behalf of the Foundation’s member companies to enhance the capabilities of students to engage with Industry 4.0 concepts. This three-week workshop for automation and advanced controls began in 2020 and goes by the acronym SASI (Systems Automation Springboard for Internships). The inaugural program exceeded the expectations of sponsoring companies, student participants and the instructors alike.
The Foundation also provides career mentoring for students during their entire time at the university, helping them to establish reasonable expectations, and connect them with work experience opportunities, whether it be internships, co-ops or their first permanent job. This helps enable a smooth transition to their first industry job and establishes them on a good career trajectory.
Each year, nearly 60 students receive scholarship support from the Foundation totaling about $265,000, which comes from endowments that have been created by stakeholders over the years.
Miami University provides a unique educational experience for Paper engineering students. They enjoy the benefits of an intimate engineering education in the midst of a liberal arts atmosphere, so that they graduate with a career-beneficial combination of capabilities: good people skills, the ability to work in teams and good leadership capabilities, all built upon a solid foundation of engineering education directed to the paper industry.
Click here for more information on the Miami University Paper Science and Engineering Foundation.
Click here for more information about becoming a member of Two Sides.