Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Paper Bridge Contest

The students in PSE 300 (Introduction to Papermaking) engaged in a paper bridge building contest as part of their course (http://www.esf.edu/catalog/PSE.asp).  The students had to build a bridge primarily out of paper or paperboard that could span a distance of 2 feet and hold weights at the center of the span.  The goal of the exercise was have the highest ratio of weight held per weight of the bridge.  A number of different designs were created and tested with some bridges holding over 20 pounds of weight. 

This course is the introductory course in the technology and engineering of papermaking for those students in the Paper Engineering and Paper Science programs at SUNY-ESF.  Paper Engineering is our ABET-accredited engineering program on campus that is essentially a chemical engineering-based program for the paper industry.  However, students that graduate from the program can go on to careers with non-paper companies such as chemical companies, equipment suppliers, as well as working for the paper industry.  Some graduates have also gone on successfully to graduate school in a number of different fields.  Starting salaries for graduates from our program in May 2009 had an average starting salary of $67,000.

Please explore our website (www.esf.edu/pbe) for more information about our programs.

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2nd Annual Paper Airplane Fly-In

The students in the Department of Paper and Bioprocess Engineering (www.esf.edu/pbe) held their 2nd Annual Paper Airplane Fly-In, where students, faculty, guests, and sons and daughters of faculty and students created paper airplanes.  The planes were subsequently launched from the bridge connecting Walters Hall (http://www.esf.edu/welcome/campus/walters.htm)and Bray Hall onto the East Quad.  D09J3576

The students were going for distance as well as accuracy towards a target about 30 feet away from the bridge on the back of the statue of Lincoln. 


Once again, a number of different designs were seen including a recreation of the largest paper airplane that was seen last year.


It's flight was just as "spectacular" as last year.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Visit by Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu

On Friday, 9 October 2009, the Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu, visited the SUNY-ESF campus to look at the development of the "green" technology going on across campus.  In particular, he visited Walters Hall to tour the biorefinery plant where students and researchers are working to turn wood chips, a renewable resource, into biofuel, plastics, and paper.  This work is part of the research program in the Department of Paper and Bioprocess Engineering at SUNY-ESF (www.esf.edu/pbe). 

More information about the visit and the announcements made at the press conference can be found at http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/10/energy_secretary_steven_chu_in.html from the Syracuse Post-Standard and http://www.esf.edu/communications/view.asp?newsID=280 from the SUNY-ESF website.

IMG_2786Dr. Chu touring the biorefinery plant in Walters Hall.

IMG_2791 Dr. Chu, President Neil Murphy, and Rep. Dan Maffei reviewing research posters in Walters Hall.

IMG_2845 Press conference in Bray Hall.

---Photos courtesy of Winnie Tsui.

Student Speech at SPPF Recognition Luncheon

Every Fall, the Syracuse Pulp and Paper Foundation  (http://www.esf.edu/pbe/sppf/) honors those students receiving scholarships to study Paper Engineering and Paper Science at SUNY-ESF (www.esf.edu/pbe).  This year's luncheon was held on Thursday, 8 October 2009.  The luncheon brings together students, faculty, staff, and most importantly representatives from the companies that support the students through the foundation. 

The highlight of the luncheon are the student speakers.  One of the speakers, Matt Ali, is a graduating senior in the Paper Engineering program.  He gave an excellent talk of his experiences during his undergraduate career in the Department of Paper and Bioprocess Engineering.  He has graciously allowed his speech to be reproduced below.

The Final Speech
by Matt Ali

As I began writing this speech, I had a lot of things run through my mind as what to write about. I tried parroting some of the better speeches I have ever heard, so here goes Four score and seven years ago, I had a dream that is wasn’t what my country could do for me, but what I could do for my country. Pending any legal ramifications I didn’t think that would work out, so I decided to use this opportunity to maximize my efficiency and tell everyone, everything they need to know before I leave.

To my colleges, Congratulations!, look around you, you are in a prestigious institution with a high caliber faculty that expect nothing but the best out of their students. This makes for one of the finest educations, that is truly second to none. The people sitting next to you are some of the most powerful and influential people within our industry, and it is no accident that most of them are graduates from the very program you are attending. Feel privileged, you are in good company.

To the freshman in the crowd hold on tight, because you are in for the ride of your life. Take the next few years of your life for what they are, many of you will have good times and bad, Try new things, meet new people learn and grow. Live your life so that when you reflect on the past you will have nothing but admiration for what you have done and how far you have come. It is best to regret an action, rather than an in-action.

To those of us who are graduating. KUDOS! We did it. We are about to being a new chapter in our lives. But take a moment and a few deep breaths and appreciate those around you. In a few months the relationships you have with your peers, your friends and even your family will change. As your life and career will take you away, there life will take them. Love them for who they are, tell them what they mean to you, you may not get a second chance. Don’t’ be afraid, in your life you’ll have to get dirty, you’ll make mistakes, but know that whatever mistakes you make others have made them, picked up the pieces and carried on, Whatever woes you have lived through embrace them, they will make you stronger and they will teach you. Understand life is about fear; those that are brave will make a life worthy to be remembered. In regards to your profession life, fight a good fight, fight evil, but first understand evil, and never be so naïve as to believe that you and your actions couldn’t be the evil. Understand your own humanity and never make a decision that could rob you of it.

To my employers, to the lucky few that has been gracious enough to give me a job. Just this past summer I was privileged enough to work for Albany International. In retrospect I can say now that I have truly valued my time with them. I was given an excellent opportunity to expand not only my abilities in engineering but also my understanding of what my boss John Hawes would call the Cadillac of corrugator belts. But seriously despite what ever preconceived notions I might have had of how interns are treated there, I can say unequivocally that I was welcomed with open arms even in a rough time and was treated not only as an equal but as a friend. It is that kinship that puts the longevity into a company like Albany and the reason why they have been so successful (aside from the corrugators).

To the Faculty, during my time at ESF I have had the esteemed privilege of learning under some of the most brilliant people in the world. I have been continually taken aback at the depth and breadth of their knowledge, for not only the subjects being presented but for any subject that is discussed. To preface Sir Isaac Newton I truly stood upon the shoulders of giants. There is no possible way to convey the depths of my gratitude for all you have given me. I once spoke with a teacher and asked him, why out of all of the careers he could have pursued, why for go fame and fortune to be a teacher. With a serious tone he told me, if he could just make a difference in one student’s life, then all the sacrifice would have been worth it. I understand now that his sentiment is not unique, and for what it’s worth to you, I am that student.

I couldn’t possibly end this speech without giving special thanks to the SPPF office (Linda & Deb); in retrospect I do not know how I would have finished this program without them. I’m not much for analogies but, it was as though I was adrift at sea and they became the compass I used to find my way. They are to the college and to the students truly worth their weight in gold.

Finally, to everyone that I have meet, befriended, worked with, worked for or learned from I have but one final thing to say to all of you. For every experience that I have gotten to be a part of, to every sleepless night I have endured, to every lesson that I have sat through and has now become a part of me, I say to all of you truly from the bottom of my heart:

Thank You

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2009 International Biorefinery Conference

The 2009 International Biorefinery Conference opened today at the DoubleTree Hotel in Syracuse, New York and  is two days of information on the emerging technology relating to the use of renewable resources for the production of energy, fuels, and other materials.  The conference is bringing together researchers, energy producers, biomass producers, and many others from around the world.  A particularly large contingent of participants has come from China.  As of this morning, attendance was at 158.

The topics being covered range from the production of the feedstock for the various technologies that can convert the biomass into the various products that have traditionally been made from non-renewable resources.  Sessions during the conference include such topics as the Forest Biorefinery, Chemical Processing, Pretreatment, Cellulose and Lignin Conversion, Biodiesel, Fermentation, Byproducts, and the Economics of the various processes.  More information about the program can be found at the SUNY-ESF website (www.esf.edu/pbe). 

The after lunch speaker, Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, the Director  of Renewable Energy and Chemicals at UOP, discussed UOP's effort to produce jet fuel from renewable resources.  In tests, three jets (two 747's and one 737) were flown commercially on jet fuels produced from a variety of biomass feedstocks, including algae.  The demos were successful in showing that they could produce the jet fuel as well demonstrating that it could be successfully used in a commercial setting.  The fuel produced is currently going through the Fuel Qualification Process, which is a sequence of tests at various levels.  It is expected that the fuels will be fully certified in 2010.

The organizers would like to particularly thank the following sponsors of the conference:

Syracuse Center of Excellence



Agenda 2020

Maas Companies

Applied Biorefinery Sciences

New Holland


For more information regarding the information presented at this conference, please see the following journals, which will be publishing the papers from this conference:

Journal of Biotechnology Advances

Journal of Biomass and Bioenergy

Journal of Biobased Materials and Bioenergy

Friday, October 2, 2009

Working in the Paper Industry

A recent survey by the Syracuse Pulp and Paper Foundation asked the question of alumni of the Paper Engineering and Paper Science programs at SUNY-ESF, "Would you still recommend a career in the pulp and paper industry to a college student? Why or why not?"  Chester Dunbar Crowell, Jr. ’52 gave a uniquely thoughtful response: “I would recommend a career in the pulp and paper industry to conserve world forests.”