Adam Arruda, 35, joined Yushin America Inc. in 2009 as a mechanical engineer designing automation equipment for molding and thermoforming machines.
He started working for Teknor Apex Co. in 2011 as a mechanical engineer in the corporate engineering department, where he was responsible for new equipment installations and upgrades in company facilities around the world. Arruda then became the plant engineer for the materials firm's Leominster, Mass., plant in 2016 and then the plant engineer for the Pawtucket, R.I., facility in 2020.
"As plant engineer for Teknor Apex, I am actively involved in the manufacturing of plastics compounds. I'm also on our company's Operation Clean Sweep team, which aims to eliminate powders, pellets and flakes that escape the facility, and I am part of the selection team for our company's Innovation Campaigns," he added.
"I get to work with all different machines, processes and people. I never feel like I'm doing the same thing day after day, and that keeps me interested," he added.
Arruda graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA. "I think my greatest achievement was getting my MBA. It opened a world of possibilities for my career, and I'm happy to say I did it while working full time, balancing my personal and professional life," he said.
Arruda said his current challenge is managing a project to install a new compounding line while simultaneously maintaining existing equipment.
"Ultimately," he said, "I would like to become a vice president, but my immediate goal is to become a plant manager."
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Arruda: Bioplastics. Years ago, I happened to walk in on some university students who were trying to develop some new formulations from corn starch, and the entire place smelt like fresh popcorn.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Arruda: The first thing is I believe the plastics industry has an image problem that we somehow need to correct. I believe the youth of today care more than previous generations that the company they work for is making a positive impact on the world. There are companies actively working on improving this image through sustainable and recycled polymers, but the industry needs to get this message out there. To do this, I think the industry should focus on reaching out to schools and providing educational opportunities. This can be especially beneficial in underfunded and inner-city schools, where there is a more diverse student population.
Q: What is your philosophy related to plastics and sustainability? What steps have you taken to improve plastics' sustainability, either in work, your community or personal life?
Arruda: I think the industry has a big role to play in sustainability. I was part of an innovation campaign in my organization to reduce waste going to the landfill. As part of it, we sent a group of individuals to the local resource recovery to see how they process recycling. It was surprising to see how much recyclable material does not get recycled, either because the machines don't recognize it, it's contaminated or it's just not economically feasible to recycle. We also found out a small amount of trash in a bin full of recyclables is enough to reject the load and have it sent to the landfill. From this, we educated our employees on how to properly sort recyclables as well as scrap material and found a waste-to-energy company to dispose of nonrecyclables.