Those who are worried the rubber industry doesn't have enough youth to carry the sector's torch forward can rest easy.
Based on the 28 members of the Rubber & Plastics News Under 40 class profiled in the July 24 print issue, the future of the industry is in good hands. They represent a wide variety of areas and occupations within the sector and, as a group, express the optimism that can help carry on the tradition of sharp thinking and technological advances that keep the rubber and tire industries moving forward.
And while many view rubber as a mature industry that might not appeal to younger generations, that's not apparent here.
"Every day there is something new and different," said Casey Hedlund, 30, a senior scientist at Lord Corp. "I may spend one day researching literature for a new project, the next day mixing a compound for it, or a few days later impatiently waiting for test results. Through the entire process, I gain knowledge on materials and techniques."
Others in the class echoed that sentiment in answers they submitted to surveys following their nomination.
"When I asked the engineers who interviewed me to describe a day as a project engineer, they told me that their days are always different," said Dalton Hart, 26, a senior project engineer at Desma USA. "Knowing that I would always be challenged and working on new ideas intrigued me and sold me on the position. Learning that I would see projects from start to finish indicated to me that I would feel a great sense of accomplishment at my job."
Alexandra Krawicz, 36, lead chemist of global research and development at SI Group, felt after her interview that the company would be a good fit for her. "I met with many passionate chemists during my interview, and the level of their knowledge, enthusiasm for their work and professionalism was what tipped the scale," she said.