Jose Iribarne

Engineering and Technical Manager, Solvay Paperboard LLC

B.S. & Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, M.S. & Ph.D. in Paper Science and Engineering


What attracted you to your chosen field?

After a summer internship in a pulp mill, I was fascinated by its variety and complexity: there were physical, chemical and biological processes. I jumped at the opportunity to learn about those processes and get to design them. I have not been bored since!

What do you like best about the field?

There is a wonderful group of people working in the pulp and paper industry worldwide. You learn something new every day.

What are some personal challenges you have faced in your field?

I got a lot of scientific and technical education, but had much to catch-up on personnel and financial management.

What does the future hold for your chosen field?

Paper in one form or another will continue to be used for a very long time. However, the traditional pulp & paper industry has matured and is only growing in developing countries. A revolution will come from new processes and products based on wood, a vast renewable resource. I believe a carbohydrate-based economy will eventually replace our current hydrocarbon-based economy.

What things can students do to prepare for a career in this field?

On the technical side, become proficient in MS Excel: it has powerful tools and every company has it. Your soft skills are as important as your technical skills: learn to communicate and to work in teams.