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Student Spotlight: Paul Sausville of Syracuse

Paul Sausville

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The heart of the Syracuse Pulp and Paper Foundation's work is its student scholarship program. With college enrollment declining and education costs rising nationwide, the need to entice top-notch talent to our industry is paramount to its survival and prosperity.

By providing scholarships to dedicated student leaders, the Foundation has strengthened the college's Paper and Bioprocess Engineering faculty and increased enrollment of top students from around the nation and the world.

As expressed in its bylaws, the Foundation goals are:

  • To encourage students in the study of paper science and engineering;

  • To provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans, including loans without interest or other charges, for students who enroll in paper science and engineering;

  • To provide an opportunity for alumni and interested leaders of the pulp and paper and allied industries to strengthen the paper science and engineering curriculum;

  • To further fundamental and applied research of importance to the pulp, paper, and allied industries through special grants and fellowships;

  • To provide a means of liaison and communication between paper science and engineering academic personnel and the pulp, paper, and allied industries

Paperitalo Publications interviewed senior Paul Sausville and we asked him about his experiences at Syracuse.

What attracted you to the Paper & Bioprocess Engineering program?

When I first heard of the Paper & Bioprocess Engineering program at SUNY ESF, it sounded too good to be true. Highest starting salary in the school, 100% job placement, paid internships and generous scholarships, I admit, it definitely caught my attention. Even then, I wasn't sold until talking to a family friend. Come to find out, my neighbor had gone through the SUNY ESF Paper program during the 80's and I had no idea!. Hearing him talk so highly about his career was all the selling I needed. The idea that after 40 years, I could still be so excited by the work I was doing was too good to pass up!

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

To be honest, working in the pulp and paper industry was something that never crossed my mind. I had my heart set on being a biologist since I was 8 years old, and that's what got me to SUNY ESF. At an accepted students day I saw a flier for Paper and Bioprocess Engineering and within two weeks, I had completely shifted my whole life's plan! Now, four years later, I'm happy to say I don't regret a thing!

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

I have been fortunate enough to have two internships during my undergraduate, with two very different manufacturers.

My first was with Mohawk Fine Paper, in Cohoes, New York. Mohawk is a specialty paper mill that, up until recently, was family owned since the 1930's. As far as first internships go, my experience at Mohawk could not have been better. Working between the companies two mills, and three machines, I had the opportunity to work on a large variety of projects including chemical trials, equipment installation, system design, and I got to brush up on my paper and pulp testing skills. Mohawk was a fun and ever changing place, with a rainbow of colors, coatings and products. My time at Mohawk piqued my interest in the use of alternative fibers, such as hemp, straw, and recycled rags and denim, and showed me that papermaking isn't just a job, it's an artform.

In hopes of broadening my understanding of the industry, I set my sights on a larger, integrated mill the following summer, and found myself in Springfield, Oregon, working with International Paper. Working in the mills Power and Recovery department gave me a completely new set of skills and knowledge, while continuing to solidify my decision to be in the industry.

What does this program mean to you?

To me, this program is my chance to combine my passion for sustainability and paper to have an impact on our environment. Before finding this program, I, as many do, had the mistaken belief that paper was far from sustainable. I have now realized the incredible circular nature of this industry. The reuse of water, chemicals, energy and raw materials. The hundreds of sustainable applications of fiber. The close relationship between the industry and our world's forests. This program has opened my eyes to all of this and more.

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

I have greatly enjoyed my time in mills, and have a strong desire to continue working in paper manufacturing after finishing my education. With this said, I have yet to work for a chemical or equipment vendor, and am hopeful I can experience this sometime in the near future before I settle on a career. Wherever I end up, I can say with great certainty, this is the industry I want to be in!

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

If you are a highschool student who is considering a future in pulp and paper, I would recommend talking to as many people as you can in the industry. One of the best ways to do this is by reaching out to any of the pulp and paper university programs and asking for more information and contacts to talk to. Whether they are students, recent graduates, or tenured papermakers, hearing the experiences of those who have done it is the best way to decide if it's right for you!

And once they've convinced you, I recommend doing as many internships, co-ops, and abroad studies as you are able to. The pulp and paper industry has the ability to take you all over the world, and there are so many options for your future. The more you do during your undergraduate the better prepared you'll be when it's time to decide on a career!

Please let us know of anything else of interest about your experiences in the program.

SUNY ESF has a close relationship with the Munich University of Applied Sciences in Germany and has done a great job establishing an exchange program. I am excited to be attending Munich for a Masters in Paper Technology this upcoming fall. I look forward to the opportunity to learn in a different country and broaden my knowledge of papermaking.

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

I am currently a Senior and will be graduating in just a few days of writing this (assuming all goes to plan)! I'm originally from Saratoga Springs, New York, and I started my journey in pulp and paper in 2020, in the middle of COVID-19. I'm happy to say things have only gotten better from there! When I'm not in classes or working, I do my best to get out and explore my surroundings. While in Oregon this past summer, I put over 15,000 miles on my car in under 3 months exploring the Pacific Northwest!


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