University of Minnesota

Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Student Profile

Name: Jimmy
Anticipated Graduation Year:

How and why did you choose your major?

In a way, I didn't really choose BPE, BPE chose me. In my junior year of high school I fell in love with Chemistry. When I got to freshman orientation, I thought I wanted to go into Chemical Engineering. As the day continued, ChemE students would talk about what they did and it did not live up to what I wanted at all. During a "major fair" I noticed a poster for Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering. Intrigued, I asked a couple questions and found out that I'd be using the chemistry I loved, in a more specific manner. Whether in renewable resources, renewable plastics, food engineering, ecology, etc. The things that interested me the most were the subjects under the Bioproducts Engineering (BPE) track. The idea of being able to take plant matter and process it into something useful to society was the standout factor. I had to know more! So I signed up for the introductory course BBE1001, and this only furthered my interest In this class we had an opportunity of seeing perspective employers and had them tell us what they look for in their future employees. They also talked about what they did. The opportunities and choices were endless, and I was hooked.

Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.

BPE allows for several different career paths, so for any two people who have a degree in it, the career paths could be completely different. So far I've learned the basics about biomass, and how biofuels are created in the Biorenewable Resources class. This class explored those ideas along with wood anatomy, pulp and paper processing. I think the most interesting part was the pulp and paper processing. Taking a solution of 99% water and 1% fiber and turning it into a roll of paper is the most fascinating thing I could imagine. This coming semester I'll be taking an Intro to Engineering Design course, and a Statics and Dynamics course.

What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)

As a freshman last year I decided I wanted to be a part of the student groups available in the BPE major. Not only was that the best decision of my first year, but it expanded my horizons farther than I ever expected. The student group for BPE is TAPPI (Technical Association for Pulp and Paper Industries). Through TAPPI I was able to visit a paper mill in Green Bay, WI. I was also the only freshman who attended the TAPPI Student Summit. Last year it was in Syracuse, NY. This was a chance for all of the major companies to meet students and for students to discover what is happening in the industry. To afford the Summit trip, the student group volunteered to serve ice cream at the Gopher Basketball games. This was another amazing experience because it allowed for people who are not used to costumers to gain that invaluable skill.

In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?

My piece of advice would be to keep your mind open. The Bioproducts Engineering major has a lot to offer across several different fields. If at first you feel discouraged, just stick it out a little longer. When I first started in BBE 1001, I was unsure if this was right for me. Immediately after TAPPI visited the Georgia Pacific plant in Green Bay, my career path changed in an instant. I knew that I had found what I wanted to do, and would do whatever it took to get there. As for one thing other students should know, is that, as with any major, if you begin to struggle there is help available. The faculty are friendly and open to any questions anyone could ever have. Who knows, these bonds made due to asking questions, or being curious could lead to them asking you to work on their research. Anything could happen, just keep your mind open.

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Center for Academic Planning and Exploration
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