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COLLEGE GRADS MAKE THE GRADE

Don Dell, 26, typifies the pulp and paper worker of the future: young, educated and highly motivated. "They prepared us well to have a fundamental knowledge of the entire papermaking process," Dell sa...


May 1, 1999
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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Don Dell, 26, typifies the pulp and paper worker of the future: young, educated and highly motivated. “They prepared us well to have a fundamental knowledge of the entire papermaking process,” Dell says of Sault College’s three-year pulp and paper engineering technologist program.

Dell works for DuBois Paper Technologies in Mississauga, ON, a chemical supplier. In January 1994, six months after graduation, DuBois hired the 21-year-old as a service technician. He says, “That’s the benefit of a technical diploma. You are easily trainable and can start working right away.”

Higher machine speeds — the fastest paper machines run at close to 1800 metres per minute — and increased recycled content demand an increased knowledge of paper chemistry. College training has proved beneficial. Courses like Industrial Processes, Principles of Chemistry and Paper Testing are a core part of the curriculum.

Accordingly, Dell puts into practice what he has learned at school. “Many mills use us as process control engineers and troubleshooters,” he says, “to solve small problems on the paper machine and, therefore, maximize efficiency.”

And continuous learning is a big part of the job. For example, when interviewed, Dell was attending a training course in Prince George, BC.

Upward mobility

And he has used his education to his advantage. In January 1995 he took on the added responsibility of sales, and became an account manager. And in February 1999, the company promoted him to district manager for southern Ontario.

He concedes that although his career path to sales is not typical for technologists, it is not unusual. “In the last few years, mills have been hiring fewer people, including graduates, and service companies such as DuBois have been hiring more. About 60% of grads work in mills and 40% for suppliers to mills.”

And Dell’s career path is not fixed. With 10 years of experience, some technologists have become mill managers, a job that pays between $70 000 and $100 000 a year.


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