Domtar Hosts ETSU Engineering Students for Kingsport Mill Tour

Sep 28, 2023 | Uncategorized

Engineering students from East Tennessee State University and Domtar team members during the recent tour of the Kingsport Mill.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — First-year engineering students from East Tennessee State University explored future career possibilities during a recent tour of Domtar’s Kingsport Mill. 

Jeff Walker, senior electrical engineer at the Kingsport Mill, worked with Matthew Sheppard, ETSU Engineering Capstone instructor, and M. Moin Uddin, Ph.D., P.E., ETSU professor and program director of the TTU-ETSU Joint Engineering program, to coordinate the visit.

“We wanted to introduce them to many career scenarios,” Walker said. “In addition to our on-site manufacturing jobs, we have vendors, equipment manufacturers and service engineers. We gave them several examples and opportunities for what they can achieve with their degree.”

In addition to Walker, ETSU alumni Kevin Manuel, reliability engineer, Eric Benton, maintenance planner, and Milligan University alumna Iris Fregoso, reliability engineer, served as tour guides. 

“We had a basic route we were going to take, but we varied that depending on students’ specific areas of study and disciplines,” Walker said. “For example, we showed the electrical students a lot of the electrical equipment. Other groups were more mechanically oriented. We worked to be dynamic and flexible to accommodate the interests of the group.”

The tour also gave students an opportunity to see how what they learn in the classroom is put into practice on the job.

“In our Bachelor of Science in Engineering program, we teach students the fundamentals of mechanical, electrical and civil engineering areas,” Uddin said. “Visualizing how all those concepts apply to real-life design, build and applications will solidify student learning.”

A highlight of the tour was the mill’s 100 percent recycled containerboard machine — the second largest in North America. The machine was converted from an uncoated freesheet paper machine and resumed operations in January 2023. It can produce approximately 600,000 tons of high-quality recycled linerboard and corrugated medium each year.

“In this tour, students witnessed how raw materials become real product,” Uddin said. “There is a systematic process about how things move from one step to the next and how every piece of equipment is designed to make the process efficient. I think this experience will enhance students’ design thinking. In addition, students learned what skills they need to be an effective engineer, and they will also benefit from future internships, co-ops and job opportunities at Domtar.

“Most of the students have some idea of engineering, but they wanted to learn more about the engineering profession, different areas of engineering and career opportunities,” Uddin added. “This experience was extremely beneficial from that perspective.”