July 2011 Archives

Let’s clarify something, while I’m living in Burlington for the summer, TA is in St. Albans VT, which is about 30 miles north of Burlington, about 15 miles south of Canada (Yes, I’m up there). So my daily commute to and from is roughly 60 miles.


Monday-Friday follows a general routine:


6:45 AM: “Wakin up in the morning gotta be fresh”

7:15 AM: Yes keys, turn to start

7:45 AM: Clock-in

4:15 PM: Clock-Out

5:00 PM: It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

7:00 PM: Epic Meal Time

11:00 PM: Bedtime with Hot Coco! (Conan)


Don’t let this be a guide. I don’t follow this schedule down to the last second!


I’ve been living in Burlington for almost 2 months now. I find myself in an odd situation though because technically I’m not a local, but I’m also not a tourist. I know my way around Burlington and the surrounding towns now. I workout at the YMCA, bronze at North Beach, and do laundry at the King St. Laundromat (If you weren’t paying attention I just covered the GTL of Burlington, and if you’ve been living under a rock for the past 2 years, that’s Gym Tan Laundry). Yet I still find myself at places, for the first time, asking people “What do you recommend?” or “Yes this is my first rodeo [Row-Day-Oh].” So like I said, I’m this hybrid of a local-tourist.


While I do have a roommate, I spend the majority of the week with me, myself and I. So every once in a while I’ll catch a movie during the week. I know, I know. “Going to the movies by yourself!?...That’s so sad.” Is it though? When I go see a movie, I’m going to SEE THE MOVIE, not to socialize with the person I went with, so is it really any different sitting by yourself. And better yet, I have the popcorn all to myself and don’t need to deal with my fellow moviegoer shoving their hand in my popcorn while I’m trying to pay attention to what is on the screen.


But, when I do have visitors, or go out with people I have met here, there is a plethora of to do’s. Church St. is the heart of Burlington VT, a four block walking street crammed with pubs, bars, cafés, restaurants, shops, musicians, an entire mall, and more! In fact, just off the top of my head, I can name 45 different places to eat (Is that a lot?) within 1 square mile of my apartment in downtown Burlington.


Then, there is Lake Champlain, “the sixth great lake.” You could take your own boat out, or rent a canoe or a kayak. Or maybe you just want to hang out at one of the beaches. Or maybe you just want to take a hike around the lake. OR MAYBE you just want to ride your bike along the lake. OR MAYBE! You just want to sit and relax at the waterfront and enjoy a sunset over the Adirondack Mountains.


That doesn’t tickle your fancy? Well maybe touring a local brewery appeals to you, there are 21 one of them in VT (must be 21 or older) Magic Hat and Switchback (a new personal favorite) are located right in Burlington!


Not appealing either? Try touring Ben and Jerry’s or Shelburne Farms.


Still nothing? How about hiking in the Green mountains.


No? Well then just Google it.


If I had decided to stay in MA this summer, I would have missed out on all of these amazing opportunities. I most likely would have been bored doing the same things day in and day out. So no, I’m not lonely and I’m not bored.


“I’m out there, Jerry and I’m lovin every minute of it!”

 At this point in time I’ve just reached the midway point of my co-op at Teknor Apex (TA). My first day was June 1st.
The first couple of days consisted of becoming acquainted with fellow co-workers, learning the lay-out of the facility, and how TA goes about its day-to-day operations. TA runs 24 hours, 5 days a week. There are three shifts throughout the work day, and from what I have seen during these changeovers, the plant doesn’t skip a beat. The blueprint of the TA facility consists of a main office area, conference room, break room, 2 laboratories and the manufacturing floor.
The manufacturing floor is where the action is, divided into several sections all with a unique purpose; Shipping/Receiving, storage of raw materials, storage of finished goods, staging areas, maintenance area, holding area and an area for packaging supplies.
Then, amidst all of that is the 2 floor production area, the central nervous system of TA, consisting of three twin screw extrusion lines and three small injection molding machines. The main product of this facility is TPE’s (Thermoplastic Elastomers). Below is a brief overview of the process.
  1. Extruder is turned on and zones are allowed to heat to processing temperatures.
  2. Raw materials are gathered in the staging area, then fork-lifted or pumped across the plant from various tanks, upstairs.
  3. Raw materials are added to the mixer and blended.
  4. Gravity feeds the raw material blend down into the hopper and into the co-rotating twin screw extruder.
  5. As the extrudant exits the die, it is pelletized, dried and packed.
  6. Once the package is full it is weighed, sealed, labeled and moved to the finish goods area, where it will wait to be shipped.
  7. After the production run is complete, all areas of the line are cleaned and checked thoroughly to make sure everything is in good working order for the next production run.
Production runs typically last an hour. During these production runs, finished pellets are taken, inspected for quality and injection molded to make hardness plaques, tensile bars and flexural bars, to check and confirm physical properties of the material. Hardness, specific gravity and melt flow rate are several of the properties tested periodically during the production run.
The plant is populated with about 20 to 25 people at any given time, each with a specific purpose. There is a plant manager, a plant technical manager (my boss), a chemist, scheduling, shipping, shift leaders, operators, mixers…and me. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the flow chart…and then turn the page you will find me.
They set me up a nice corner office with a lovely view that I walk RIGHT PAST on my way into the lab every morning. It’s in the lab that I establish base each day. I have my own computer and work space, along with access to most anything I need throughout the plant. I was fitted with standard TA team uniforms to wear out on the floor, team boots, and just to add to the list of swag, a team hat (the answer is yes, TA paid for it all, I’ll be a free agent next season, so TA is looking to keep my moral high incase they decide to offer me a contract extension). So now you might ask, what have I done so far?
  • Research and Development
    • Formally report findings
  • Writing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
  • Quality testing
  • Tensile, shore A hardness, compression, moisture and MFR (melt flow rate)
  • Flat film extrusion
  • Injection molding machines
    • Maintenance
    • Writing PM (Preventative Maintenance) Guides
  • Gage R & R (Repeatability and Reproductability) test
  • Process Validation Reports
    • IQ (Installation Qualification)
    • OQ (Operational Qualification)
    • PQ (Performance Qualification)
THAT, is what I’ve done, and that is the abridged version. At the end of the day, if what I’ve done has helped something, someone, somewhere, then I consider it a success. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, and NOTHING is so simple that you can’t mess it up. During my co-op experience, I plan to learn and understand how all the different aspects of TA work individually and together to create the successful company it is.
And the beat goes on…

The magic number is 198. That’s the distance in miles (318 kilometers for all you engineers) from UML to my apartment in Burlington Vermont.


Now the majority of kids, when they move to college, have never lived away from home before. This newly discovered freedom can cause a student to behave many different ways, but there are two that are most apparent in my mind.


First scenario, the student becomes consumed by the party scene. They end up marching to the tune of Sean Kingston’s Sleep All Day (And Party All Night) and when the grades are released over winter break, they find themselves on academic probation. Potentially having this classic conversation…


Animal House 


Hopefully, this is enough for the student to get their act together, develop some decent study habits, and turn things around for the Spring semester (and the rest of college). OR they will SAY that they will do all of what I previously stated, but instead keep the “dream” alive. I think Animal House sums it up again pretty well... 


Toga! Toga! Toga! 


After one year of college they find themselves changing majors, taking summer courses, taking a year off or just calling it quits period.


Second scenario, the student understands their new found freedom, and becomes more self aware. College doesn’t wait for you, or put up with your excuses. The student understands they need to wake up go to class, pay attention, do their work, or suffer the consequences.


*Side note: This is what bothers me about the world today, people thinking they are entitled, that they don't need to suffer the consequences. When did the whole world become one big participation award, the whole every kid gets a trophy, 6th place ribbons, there is something for everyone, everyone is a winner, etc. NO! College isn’t like that. There are winners and losers. No one is going to hold little Johnny Jones or Susie Snowflakes hand all through college. If you fail, YOU FAIL, no second chances, no extra credit. Better luck next time! So that’s why I don’t feel bad for the kids who drank or slept their way out of the engineering program, and then are all upset saying something along the lines of, “This test/paper/professor is (insert profanity), I pay a lot of money to go to school here.” Maybe if you cared an inkling about your school work, and not about that extra hour of sleep, getting a few games of ruit in on Tuesday night, or 3 hours of Zombies/Team Death Match, you would have passed. Cause if I could quote a great man, myself, “There is nothing better than going out on the weekends and knowing you’re getting good grades.” Anyway…


The student finds a good balance between social life and academic life, making them both a better student, and a better person.


As for me, I have not lived at home for the past 13 summers, and since starting college, I live at home maybe 2 months of the year. So when I moved into UML freshman year, I knew the deal. I went to class, got my work done on time, studied for my exams and earned those top notch grades. And I still manage to go out with my friends over the weekends and have time for myself.


So now I’m in Burlington. I think living away from home so much already has made this transition easy. I have to get myself up in the morning and into work on time Monday-Friday, 8:00AM-4:00PM (Does anyone work 9-5 anymore?). I have to go food shopping for myself, cook for myself and pay my rent. Basically, I’m on my own.


Instead of my school work, I have actual work. When you are employed by a company, you are on their dollar, so “time is money.” Their money! So you can’t procrastinate and wait till the last minute, because at the end of the day, it’s a business, deadlines are real, extensions don’t exist, and expectations have to be met. Otherwise, it costs the company money, and in the business world, everyone is cheap.


My point is, moving away from home is a big deal, and you don’t really understand how big of a deal it is until you’ve left. Moving, away for a summer Co-Op isn’t all about the work experience either, there are a lot of fun things to do up here in Burlington, but we’ll save that for another time.


To be continued…



Every great story has a preliminary journey that sets the stage for the main story. My Summer Co-op experience is no exception, and it too has its own prelude…


Upon returning to UML for my junior year I had several goals for the year, but the primary goal from the get go was to land a summer internship position. I had put off obtaining a summer internship last year in order to spend one more summer as an overnight camp counselor. Now it was time to join the almighty “real world” that everyone at camp dreaded so much.


First semester was uneventful (as far as job opportunities went), so let’s fast forward to second semester. I had signed a "Co-Op contract" indicating to the Career Services Department my interest in obtaining a Co-Op and that I would be attending the "Co-Op Connections Event" in February. I had also met my Co-Op advisor, whose sole responsibility was to help me in my job search.


The “Co-Op Connections Event” came and went; I had sat down and spoken with several companies, submitted my resume and business card to each (Yes, you read that correctly. I have my own business card. I wasn't lying when I said I was a "big deal"), and followed up with thank you notes. Over the next couple of weeks, I discovered a few of my classmates had been contacted for interviews, but nothing for me yet. I continued to submit online applications via eRecruiting and meet with my Co-Op advisor regularly to discuss potential strategies for my job search.


It wasn’t until spring break that I received my first opportunity to obtain a summer Co-Op. It breaks down like this:


(Please Note: To prevent bad naming any potential future employers or appearing on Google searches, actual company names will be absent in this blog.)


Company: B

Interviews: 2 (Phone)

Follow up with thank you notes: YES

Job Offer: NO

Notes: Definitely panicked and put on an overall poor performance during the first phone interview. After my second phone interview I was instructed I would be notified in 2 weeks about their decision. I never heard from them.


Now instead of going into detail about the rest of my interview process I’ll give you the “Short-short version” (Spaceballs reference for you movie buffs).


Company: S

Interviews: 2 (1 Phone & 1 On-Site)

Follow up with thank you notes: YES

Job Offer: NO

Notes: 1 of the final 2 candidates


Company: M

Interview: 1 (On site)

Follow up with thank you notes: YES

Job Offer: NO

Notes: 1 of the final 3 Candidates. I thought I interviewed exceptionally well. (Obviously)


Company: C

Interviews: 1 (On site)

Follow up with thank you notes: YES

Job offer: NO

Notes: 1 of the final 5 candidates


Company: F

Interviews: 1 (On site)

Follow up with thank you notes: YES

Job offer: NO

Notes: Of all the interviews up until this point, I was most confident this company would make me an offer…their loss.


Company: G

Interview: 1*

Follow up with thank you notes: NO

Job offer: NO

Notes: *Set-up date and time for phone interview, long story short I was stood-up.


Can you feel my frustration? At this point in time I had interviewed with 6 different companies and had not received a single job offer! I was doing everything right according to my Co-Op advisor and my professors. So why no job offer? Why always the bridesmaid but never the bride? What was I doing wrong?


But the phone hadn’t stopped ringing yet.


Company: Teknor Apex

Interviews: 1 (On campus)

Follow up with thank you notes: YES

Job offer: YES

Notes: I was informed of this interview by my Co-Op advisor an hour before its occurrence. I wasn’t prepared, I hadn’t shaved, I wasn’t dressed appropriately (basically, I just earned a job by doing the opposite of “by the book”).


Company: XYZ

Interviews: 1 (On site)

Follow up with thank you notes: YES

Job offer: YES

Notes: Now I have a decision to make!


And just like that I went from possibly settling for any job I could find, to now having to decide which company I would work for. I had no doubts, I wasn’t worried I wouldn’t find a job (yeah right)…I’m everything your company could ever want or need. Company XYZ was local in MA, while Teknor Apex is located in Vermont.  


I weighed my options, but everything in regards to Teknor Apex came together so quickly and easily. My friend in Burlington had a friend (who was an engineer and went to the same summer camp as I did) who needed a roommate for the summer. It was a great place with a great location. I thought to myself 'I would be a fool to pass up this chance'. To spend the summer somewhere I've never been, meet new people, and be the first UML student to intern at Teknor Apex, thus opening the door for a relationship between UML and Teknor Apex. Plus, I haven't lived at home for 13 summers, so one more couldn’t hurt. I contacted Teknor Apex the last day of the semester, accepted their job offer and 10 days later moved to Burlington Vermont.


Now your feature presentation…

I don’t know how to put this but…I’m kind of a big deal (among my friends). People know me (a small fraction of UML). I have many leather (paper) bound [composition note] books and my apartment smells of rich (poor) mahogany (pine).


My pillow is cool on both sides. I’ve won trophies for my game face alone. My charm is so contagious they created a vaccine for it. I once had an awkward moment to see how it felt. When life gives me lemons, I make champagne. When in Rome they do as I do. Sharks have a week dedicated to me. My words carry weight that would break a lesser mans jaw.


Who am I!? My name is Jared Peraner. I’m 21 years young and have just completed my Junior year (Yes Junior year! I’m on time and up to date with all my courses, I’m not a mega freshman or a super sophomore or a light junior) in the Plastics Engineering program.


But it wasn’t always the glitz and glamour that is the Plastics Engineering program. I’m a former mechanical engineer, but soon realized I was not fit for their world. After weeks of trade rumors and contract negotiations I left the Mechanical Engineering program and signed with the Plastics (department…not the group in Mean Girls).


Now, I’m basically the most sought after student in the Plastics department. The women know me (all maybe 5 in the dept.), the men want to be me and the professors rely on me. I’m personable, intelligent, good looking and anything else the university desires.


Let’s keep talking about me.


  • Wiffs
  • Golf
  • Grilling
  • Brewing


These are just a few of my favorite activities I participate in regularly outside the Asylum…I mean University (don’t get me wrong I really do enjoy UML). I’m a huge Boston sports fan, love cars, and I’m curious about how anything and everything works. I’m also a serious movie buff and you will no doubt find me quoting and referencing numerous television shows and movies throughout my posts.


I’ll be coming to you live from Burlington Vermont all summer long sharing my experiences in and out of my Co-Op.


So. Here. We. Go!

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