An engineering career in forestry offers as many rewards as it does opportunities to solve challenges. That’s what candidates in the engineering graduate program discovered on the job at Resolute.
We’re posting a series of Q&As with our new grads – from Quebec to Calhoun and operations in between.
Emma Barth in Baie Comeau, Quebec
Emma Barth is a process engineer at our Baie-Comeau (Quebec) paper mill. She is also participating in Resolute’s professional development program that brings new graduate engineers to our operations and helps them grow into leadership positions.
Emma was lecturing at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières when she decided to apply her academic knowledge in chemical engineering to a real workplace setting. She began her first rotation as a new engineering graduate at our Laurentide (Quebec) operation and when that closed, she joined our Baie-Comeau paper mill. Now in her 11th month of the program, Emma is working as a process engineer on the chemical processes used to make paper.
Why did you decide to look for a position in the forest products industry?
It wasn’t specifically the industry as it was the opportunity Resolute’s program presented. I thought it was something I should look into – especially given the challenges it described.
How did your engineering degree prepare you to work as a process engineer?
I had worked a fair bit in an academic setting – preparing courses and doing lectures – and I wanted to practically apply my learning in the field, and to work directly with the operators and get to know the machinery.
What kind of projects do you work on?
Given my background in teaching and course development, one of my early projects at Baie-Comeau was to develop and implement some employee training. I also worked on a few training and development projects at Laurentide before it closed.
What did you learn from the closure of the Laurentide mill?
A mill closure is quite an experience, and I drew what positives I could from it. I was responsible for closing the sludge plant, and it was definitely a challenge to motivate people under those circumstances. But what really impressed me was how everyone came together to help each other through it. I learned firsthand the importance of good communication – both from a corporate perspective and individuals.
What misconception of the industry would you like to correct?
Some engineering students might overlook the pulp and paper sector as a career option because they think it’s a mature industry and that there’s little about the processes that can be improved, but that’s not true. Not every sector has the kind of interesting challenges you are trying to solve in pulp and paper.
What advice do you have for someone considering a career in pulp and paper?
If you are ambitious and interested in learning, this a great place to connect what you’ve learned in school with real world experience. As a junior engineer, you have the opportunity to take on a much broader role here than you would in most other industries.
What did you learn about safety by working in an industrial environment?
The most important thing is to keep your eyes open and always declare a near miss. It’s important to recognize how near miss-reporting is crucial to everybody’s safety. Everyone is responsible for keeping a watchful eye on each other.