Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.
Why he was selected: Contributed significantly in the firm's Biomaterial Research Development Initiative grant, a project to study the potential use of guayule to replace Hevea natural rubber in tires, and is now an integral member of Cooper's innovation team.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the rubber industry?
My family was a big influence in this decision. My grandfather worked at Cooper as a tire builder, and my father currently works at Cooper in the plant as a production worker. I grew up hearing stories about Cooper, and I always viewed Cooper as a potential workplace. Another big source of inspiration is the fact that there is still so much to learn about the behavior of rubber. I wanted a challenging career with the potential to learn new things and make improvements. There is potential for innovation, research and development in the rubber industry, which was enticing to me.
How did your company sell the rubber industry to you during the recruiting/hiring process?
As part of my recruitment, Cooper discussed the components that make up a tire, and the different roles of each tire component and the complexity involved in tire design. Previously, I had always pictured tires as black, round and made of rubber. The complexity of tire construction and the performance requirements for tires impressed me and got me excited about a career in the tire industry. I was looking for an industry that was well-established, but welcomed innovation, and the tire industry fit that bill.
What advice do you have for students considering a career in the rubber industry?
Seek to understand and apply the main concepts from your courses rather than solving math problems to earn good grades. Any scientist or engineer can solve math problems, but the great scientists and engineers understand the key scientific concepts and can apply them to practical situations. A career in the rubber industry requires a lot of on-the-job learning and there are aspects of the science that are still evolving, so be ready to be a lifetime learner. The rubber industry is ideal for people who are looking for a dynamic career that offers a broad range of experiences. I would also say that, at least for the tire industry, you will get carbon black on your hands and clothes, and you will come home smelling like sulfur from time to time, but you will still enjoy a challenging and rewarding career.
Other interests: Welcomed a baby daughter, Felicity, in March with his wife, Brooke. He also plays drums in his local church's band.