Kyle Cauwels, an associate design engineer at Newell Brands in Downers Grove, Ill., already has two design patents to his name.
Cauwels, who has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University, designed the products when he was an intern at Arrow Plastic Manufacturing Co.
"The first is a plate designed for holding tacos and was filed in 2014. The second is a kids' sports water bottle and was filed in 2015," he said.
His first plastics industry job was at Arrow, a company that designs and manufactures plastic housewares.
"I've always been interested in designing products that people use every day, and almost everything uses plastics," Cauwels said. "I've always wanted to work on consumer products, and now I work at one of the biggest consumer goods companies in the world."
What is your current challenge at work? I am working on new mechanisms for retractable pens.
What emerging technology or market most interests you? 3D printing technology.
What about the plastics industry surprises you? I am continually surprised by just how much there is to learn and by the huge variety of uses for plastics.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry? There is so much to learn and it will take time. Don't be afraid to get help from your more experienced coworkers.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first? I would get to know my team really well and find out what I could do to help anyone that needs it.
Who is your mentor, or someone you look up to? My manager, Dave Moraski. He is incredibly knowledgeable in so many areas. If someone has a question about anything from plastics to metal plating to DIY home projects, he is able to help. I want to be that type of person.
What job do you really want to have in the future? With the growing space industry and the drive to colonize Mars, I think it would be awesome to work as a design engineer on any project that could help humans in space or on the red planet.