"Today UB, ToMorrow Tennessee"
Robert Morrow, a senior chemical engineering major, has just signed on the dotted line for a new life.
Morrow is on the path to an exceptional career. He recently accepted a job at Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tenn., after a triumphant undergraduate experience here at UB. He has a long list of honors, skills, and experiences, but none of that comes through when he humbly discusses his successful past and bright future.
It was hard work that got him to where he is today.
Morrow was an intern at Eastman last summer, where he fell in love with more than just the manufacturing facility. He found himself at home in the beautiful mountains of Kingsport and in the arms of a new girlfriend and fellow intern at the company.
Morrow has long envisioned his future career in the chemical industry. Eastman makes chemicals, plastics, and fibers, which it hands off to other companies for products like Nalgene bottles and cigarette filters.
Overall, his internship at Eastman was like striking gold after a long search for the right job, Morrow said. He enjoyed his job, the town, and the people.
"I knew I did pretty well, and the upturn in the economy helped out in getting the job," Morrow said. "Some of my fellow interns, who are now my friends, will also be working there."
One of those friends is Morrow's current girlfriend, who also signed on at Eastman for employment. She was one of the 70 interns that arrived with Morrow last summer, and she was one of the first people he met.
He liked her right away, but she already had a boyfriend. Through a steady friendship and a twist of fate, they were in a relationship by the end of summer. Now they see each other when they can, driving halfway to meet each other or even flying across the country when possible.
Morrow is looking forward to living in the same city as his girlfriend. The couple will not work directly together at Eastman headquarters, but they plan to enjoy the new work environment and the lives they've chosen together.
Morrow is a big fan of the outdoors and he said that choosing Eastman had a lot to do with the location. One of his major choices was deciding whether to live in Kingsport or a neighboring city with a more exciting nightlife and youthful community.
The choice was a no-brainer for Morrow. He decided to live in the neighboring Johnson City and is set to start his new life at the end of July.
"I've been in New York all my life and I think it will be pretty interesting to move full time to a new place with a new area to explore," Morrow said. "I can't wait to go camping."
Morrow prefers working in the manufacturing environment over extensive laboratory work; he gained a lot of experience doing that with Eastman last summer. As an intern, Morrow implemented time and money saving tools for several of Eastman's operations.
When Morrow starts his new job he will be working in a pilot plant on small-scale equipment used to collect information before they are used on the large scale.
"This is definitely what I want to do," Morrow said. "The plant really uses the processes we've learned over our last four years of school."
Working with chemicals is something he has always enjoyed. In high school, he knew that a hands-on career in engineering was right for him, and the positive influence of his chemistry teacher pushed him toward chemical engineering. Morrow said that he got the solid engineering knowledge he was looking for from UB, who has a well-established program in the field.
Morrow enhanced his skills and developed new ones by joining clubs at UB and doing other extra-curricular activities. He is currently the Vice President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at UB, and also plays intramural soccer and basketball, among other academic and non-academic activities.
Despite his personal drive and ability to create opportunities for himself, Morrow says that his biggest inspiration and influence has always been his friends.
"I have some older friends that have done impressive things and [have] been able to give me advice on how to find jobs or internships," Morrow said. "They've motivated me and helped me develop leadership skills."
He has struggled to stay well rounded with the heavy load of work that chemical engineering students take on at UB, but his friends have set an example to do many things at once successfully. They also have helped him take time to enjoy life and do things for fun.
Morrow's friends have always considered him a hard worker who could do anything that he set his mind to. Ever since high school - where he was valedictorian - his work was something that made him stand out. Morrow's friends take note of his accomplishments, but appreciate him for his loyal friendship and good company.
"He always did the things that were well respected and we looked up to him in that regard," said Justin Cole, a lifelong friend of Morrow's and recent Syracuse University graduate. "I would definitely say he's inspiring. I think it's tough for college students to think about the end goal, especially when you're in school doing a lot of things, but Rob has done a lot to prepare himself and it feels very natural that he has gotten the job now."
Morrow's natural progression is something admired by those close to him and the future is set for even more admirable accomplishments. His long-term goals include working to benefit the environment and potentially taking on the business side of chemical engineering.
For now, he is ready to graduate and looks forward to relaxing before his journey to Tennessee.