Are you wondering whether UMaine engineering is for you? Or maybe you’re wondering whether the college experience has changed since you last attended, and you want to know what’s on the minds of graduating seniors.

We think one of the best ways to get the answers you want is directly from students. What better source could there be for getting the student perspective or learning about the student experience than the students themselves?

So, we asked graduating seniors a bunch of questions about their college experiences and how UMPPF has helped them. It’s a great way for prospective students, alumni, advisory board members, and company members to get a transparent view into the lives of current UMaine Pulp and Paper Foundation scholarship recipients.

Read our conversation with Brady Lobdell and Lily Welch, both mechanical engineering majors from the class of 2023.

Thank you Brady and Lily for answering our questions! Let’s start off with some easy ones. Why did you select your major?

BL: I had a knack for mechanical systems, and I really enjoyed my physics class in high school. Once I toured UMaine through Consider Engineering, I knew that Mechanical Engineering was what I wanted to do.
LW: I knew that I wanted to do something that involved both math and science but was also hands-on. I chose Mechanical Engineering because it is an all-encompassing engineering major.

Very cool that you both knew you wanted a hands-on career that involved science and math! What has been your favorite class and why?

BL: My favorite class was fluid mechanics. I had a really good teacher who made the class fun, and I thought the subject was really interesting. It is a very useful and applicable class, given how piping systems are used in just about every industry involving engineering.
LW: My favorite class has been Capstone because it allows us to take everything we’ve learned throughout college and apply it to an industrial experience.

Wow, fluid mechanics does sound interesting! And Capstone is a fantastic way to think back and see how much you’ve learned and grown as an engineer. Can you briefly describe your experience with UMaine Pulp and Paper Foundation?

BL: My first exposure to the UMPPF was through Consider Engineering, where I attended as a high school junior. After this, I was awarded a UMPPF scholarship and attended UMaine where I was met with open arms. Throughout my four years, I have been given a great support system and an opportunity to be a part of a family at school.
LW: I have been involved with the Pulp and Paper family since my sophomore year. They have given me so many opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. Through them, I gained industry experience and signed a job offer for after college graduation.

It’s great to hear about the different paths you each took. Some students come to us because they attended Consider Engineering or because their family members attended UMaine or were involved with UMPPF. Other students find us after they’ve already been on the UMaine campus for a year or two! What, if anything, surprised you about your experience with UMPPF?

BL: I was surprised how involved the UMPPF was with setting me up for success for after graduation. The attention to detail and commitment to giving me opportunities as a freshman stood out to me and showed me how much they cared.
LW: I was pleasantly surprised by how much Jen and Carrie care for each and every one of us. They set us up for success in college and in our careers.

This actually surprises a lot of people! And Carrie has said it best: “We’re more than a scholarship check—we’re a scholarship program.” Okay, so you both are about to graduate. How did UMPPF prepare you for your career?

BL: The biggest way that UMPPF prepared me for my career was helping me secure a co-op position. Through the Foundation, I was able to gain valuable industry experience for three summers where I was given meaningful work and an opportunity to grow and learn.
LW: The Pulp and Paper Foundation sets you up for success by providing ample opportunities to work in the industry from as early as freshman year. It takes a while to feel comfortable in a big mill setting, but by senior year we all really understand the processes that are happening around us.

Having hands-on, industry experience while you’re still in college is a big deal, right? Not many programs or colleges can offer that. What are you looking forward to as you launch into your career?

BL: I am looking forward to learning something new and starting a new chapter of my life. I am ready to put the knowledge I have acquired to use and ready to grow.
LW: I’m looking forward to seeing the world through my job.

We’ve seen so many students and alumni travel the world as they take on different engineering opportunities during their careers. What was the biggest challenge during your time with UMPPF and UMaine?

BL: The biggest challenge was the time management and the rigor of the courses. There were many long nights and times where it would have been easy to give up, but the UMPFF has played a huge role in getting me through those difficult times.

College itself is a crash course in time management! The engineering programs can be tough, but we offer so much support for each and every one of you because we want you all to be successful—and hopefully have fun, too. What advice would you give to a high school senior considering engineering, UMaine, or the Pulp and Paper Foundation?

BL: I would tell them to study something you are interested in. If you are passionate about what you are learning it makes it much easier to understand the concepts. If you are uninterested in the subjects you are learning, then you will be less motivated to learn.
LW: I would say that if you are willing to put in the work and work hard, you should go for it and try.

Great advice. An engineering program takes some grit and determination, but if it doesn’t interest you at all, you might have some trouble staying engaged and committed. Alright, don’t make us cry, but what will you miss about UMPPF?

BL: I will miss the people the most. I am excited to see what everyone does with the next stage of their lives, but at the same time the ending is bittersweet.
LW: I will miss my “at school” family through the Foundation, but I know that I’ll still have their support even after I graduate.

You’re right, we’re always here for you even after graduation, but it can be bittersweet to say goodbye! It’s time for our last question! Think back to four years ago: What do you wish you had known as a first-year student?

BL: I wish I had known that other people were trying to find themselves as freshmen too. Most college freshmen are overwhelmed by being in a new place surrounded by people they don’t know, so starting a conversation with someone random isn’t as difficult as it may seem.
LW: Take all of the opportunities you can and try not to say “no” to things because you never know where they will take you.

We love this advice. It’s so self-aware and encouraging! Thank you both, and best of luck to you in your engineering careers!

If you’d like to learn more about being an engineering student or a Pulp and Paper Foundation scholarship recipient, you can reach out to Carrie and Jen in the UMPPF office. Not only are they super successful engineers themselves, they’re also UMPPF alumna! They’re eager and more than willing to answer your questions and talk about how the Foundation can make your college goals come true.

Reach out to the UMaine Pulp and Paper Foundation office or learn more here.