Image 1. Sean Hobbs
Image 1. Sean Hobbs

Sean Hobbs came to Virginia Tech from East Rockaway, NY. He graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Packaging Systems and Design and moved directly into working on his Master’s degree in Forest Products, which he will finish in the fall of 2023. Sean has one older brother and prior to coming to VT, in high school, he played baseball and ran track. Here in Blacksburg, his favorite hobbies are practicing his guitar, fishing the local waterways, and playing pick-up basketball games with his friends.

When asked what made him choose CPULD, Sean responded: “What lead me to this program is that it is like applied engineering. I love to work with my hands and packaging goes into almost everything, so it is truly important. I choose my research topic because pallets due truly help move the world so helping the industry gain knowledge could make a huge impact. My education will help me reach my goals by giving me knowledge that not many people around the world would have. It will make me look more attractive to companies and also give me a leg up on my competition.”

Sean is now studying under Dr. Laszlo Horvath. His research project involves surveying the wood pallet industry to get information on the current state of the industry including common pallet sizes, pallet styles, material usage, pallet recycling, pallet end of life, and effect of the COID-19 pandemic on the industry. Sean described his research project this way: “I will be able to see trends in the market and how they compare to previous years. This will help the industry by allowing them to make better decisions based off the trends of the entire industry.” His project is financially supported by the Pallet Foundation and the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association.

Part of his graduate work includes working in the labs here at CPULD. When we asked him, what has been helpful about working here and about his plans were for the future, Sean informed us that: “The most helpful thing I would tell future students is to perfect time management.  The hands-on experiences that I have gotten from working in the lab are also valuable to me. Since we work on many different projects, I feel I will be a well-rounded employee, having a wide range of knowledge. I do not have a job lined yet, but as for company I’d want to work for, it would mostly need to have a good work culture for it to be my dream job. I am more concerned about being in a good environment where I can succeed rather than a specific job type.

“But, the absolute best part of my time here has to be working closely with the other graduate students. It is nice to know I am always part of a team that has my back. We learn from each other and are constantly there for each other.”

Sean hopes to eventually find employment back home on Long Island. Because, as he told us, “it has everything I enjoy. It provides city and country style living mixed together and all in one place.” Sean also shared with us that he would love to be a sea otter as “they seem so happy and carefree all the time. They always seem relaxed.” And, finally, he also mentioned that his favorite food is pizza: “I could eat pizza from back home every day. I mean, who doesn’t love a good slice!”