Mikayla Maxwell was introduced to the plastics industry during a summer internship at Berry Global Group Inc., a year before graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and biomolecular concentration.
"I was a corporate facilities engineering intern and was provided the opportunity to work on and lead a wide variety of projects," she said. "The internship opened my eyes to the immensity that is the plastics manufacturing world, and I was able to see myself enjoying the endless opportunities a job and company like this could offer."
As a plant engineer for four sites within Berry's PVC segment in Calhoun, Ga., Maxwell handles "a variety of projects centered around cost savings, safety, process improvement, growth and reliability" and looks for ways to improve production through optimization, modifications and upgrades.
Throughout her two years with Berry, Maxwell has had five continuous improvement projects awarded PVC Segment Winner of the Month.
"My greatest achievement would have to be the Winder Indexing Improvement project that was awarded first place for Q4 of FY2022. However, it's not my greatest achievement because it won; it's my greatest achievement because I was able to find an innovative solution that helped improve the plant. It's something I brought from concept to reality and am proud to have accomplished," she said. The project resulted in safer operation, quality improvement and reduced downtime of the machine.
Maxwell's parents, an innovation director and an accountant, contributed to her love of learning, especially math and science, as well as a strong work ethic.
"I would love to continue working in engineering project management, possibly at a corporate level, where I can share my expertise and knowledge with a wider variety of plants and product groups," she said. "I have also thought about engineering consulting as something I may enjoy in the future."
Maxwell also plans on pursing a master's degree in engineering management.
"I tend to think about the next great thing that could happen or the next big milestone that's approaching in my life, but I'm trying to adjust my mindset and learn to appreciate the great things happening in my life now," she said. "I want to stop 'living' in the next step of life before the current one has shown me all it has to offer."