Student Spotlight - Cameron Borner

September 19, 2023
Cameron Borner has short brown hair and is sitting on a park bench


Cameron Borner - He/Him
Pursuing a Bachelor of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
Anticipated graduation date: Spring 2025

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Tell us about yourself!

I am originally from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. I've spent most most of my life in the Minneapolis suburbs and have loved every second of it. I love the people here and am glad that I got the opportunity to stay in the area when I chose to come to the U. In terms of my family, me and my brother both still live in the cities, but my dad and older sister live in Duluth. I like to go up north to visit them a few times a year, so I've also gotten really familiar with the Duluth area.

Why did you choose Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering?

I chose BBE because it fits perfectly with my interests and passions. I have always cared deeply about the environment and strive to be a part of the solution to the world's climate crisis. I also have a passion for designing and building things, whether they are practical or more trinket-like. During my initial major search, I chose chemical engineering, but switched into the BBE program in the spring of my freshman year after learning more about it. The emphasis elective classes and the career paths that past students had followed really cemented that BBE was the program for me.

What has been a favorite course or project in your program? 
My favorite experience within the BBE program so far has been working under Professor Ramaswamy as an undergraduate research assistant. I've had the opportunity to work on two different projects, one around biofuel, and the other on paper drying. 

Over the last few months in the lab, I have learned a lot about essential processes like fermentation, distillation and convection drying, all of which are critical in the world of bio-based engineering. I have been able to perfect laboratory techniques, help set up new machines, design, build, problem solve, and build connections with professors, students and faculty alike. 

My work has included laboratory tasks like sample preparation and analysis, wood working, paper making, and electrical wiring. I have been able to grow my skills in so many different areas, and my confidence in my ability to be a successful engineer has grown exponentially. 

This experience has made me certain that I want to pursue a career in the bioproduct engineering field. I have really enjoyed the hands-on experience and exploration of both biofuels and paper making. I am eager to continue similar work in industry after graduation.

What student groups or extracurricular activities are you involved in and why?

This last school year, I joined FaBEO, which in my opinion is the best BBE student group (shameless plug). My favorite parts of being in the group are the connections that you build, not only with your peers, but also some industry professionals. Megan and the rest of the board this last year did a wonderful job of organizing events that were beneficial. 

There were a lot of bonding events, like the fall day when we visited a local pumpkin patch and Valentine's Day card making. As well as more professional events, like the almost weekly "opportunity moments" where professors, past students or industry professionals would share information about their experience and potential internship/research/job opportunities. 

Having such a tight-knit group has been lifesaving. It was really reassuring to know that for at least an hour every week I had somewhere I could go to hang out with like-minded people, eat delicious treats (thank you Professor Ulrike), ask for advice, apply what I'm learning and just relax. 

I think that FaBEO is a great group that everyone can benefit from joining, but especially underclassmen that are looking for help or guidance finding their way.

What are your career goals after graduation?

My current goal is to pursue an engineer position at NatureWorks on one of their bioplastic teams, but really any position within the bioplastic or the sustainable packaging industry would make me happy. I plan on working in industry for a few years before going to grad school in order to find my niche. I also hope to spend at least a year traveling South America doing something similar to engineers without borders at some point.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with the BBE community?

Being a student at a really competitive school like this one makes it really easy to prioritize academics over everything, so I'd like to encourage everyone, especially the incoming freshmen, to prioritize your emotional and physical wellbeing. You can only show up as your best when you're feeling your best. Make sure to spend time with family and friends, to eat as healthy as possible, and to try and stay active. 

You are incredibly smart and capable of amazing things! Don't let anyone or any test grade convince you otherwise.