Courtney Petak’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Wilson College Experience is Only Getting Better
By Kamilah Heslop
From studying abroad in Belgium to exploring career paths in California, Courtney (Musciano) Petak ’13 went above and beyond to make the most out of her Wilson College of Textiles experience.
Her Centennial Scholarship made many of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities possible. As soon as she stepped foot on campus, Petak joined as many student organizations as she could, including Kappa Tau Beta, Student Ambassadors and the Textile Engineering Society.
“All of these activities had a huge impact on my experience at NC State,” she says. “They allowed me to build lasting friendships, get involved in the community and travel around the country and world.”
Today, Petak is using her textile engineering degree to lead research, development, marketing and sales at BioThane Coated Webbing in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to this role, she developed innovative nonwoven aerospace materials at Tex Tech Industries. Outside of work, she serves on the college’s Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council and will serve as co-president of the council this fall.
Degree B.S. Textile Engineering, 2013
Job Title Director of Research and Development and Director of Sales and Marketing, BioThane Coated Webbing
Current City Cleveland, Ohio
Hometown Cary, North Carolina
Why did you choose NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles?
I wanted to pursue a degree and career in textile engineering, and I knew there wasn’t a better place to do it than the number one textiles school in the world! I wouldn’t have had the same quality of education or overall experience if I pursued my degree elsewhere.
What activities were you involved in as an NC State student and how did they impact your experience?
During my time at NC State, I was involved in as many campus activities as I could cram in, including Kappa Tau Beta, the Wilson College of Textiles Student Ambassadors, Textile Engineering Society, Tompkins Textile Student Council, Cru, the university’s Honors and Scholars program and the Centennial Scholarship program. Through the Centennial Scholarship program, I was also involved in a study abroad program and participated in community service opportunities on and off campus.
What is your fondest memory of being at NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles?
Building lifelong friendships and relationships are some of my fondest memories at NC State! I also had the opportunity to study abroad in Belgium and take a career exploration trip to California.
During that trip to California, we met with several recent Wilson College graduates at powerhouse companies, such as Patagonia, The North Face, Vans and Oakley, and I was able to be able to see real-life applications of our degrees. We were also on an episode of The Price is Right. Those are pretty great memories as well!
Who influenced you most during your time at the Wilson College of Textiles? And why or how?
One of the things I am most thankful for during my time at the Wilson College of Textiles is the amazing faculty and staff at the college.
Retired Director of Student and Career Services Kent Hester was a huge resource even before I started at the college through the time I was placed in my first job and beyond! My experience definitely wouldn’t have been the same without him. Philip Dail, who served as the director of advising and admissions for the college, was another great mentor to myself and countless students at the college as we started off our careers. I truly felt that all of my professors genuinely cared about me, and still do! Professor Jeff Joines still checks in on me — and reminds me that the weather is usually better where he is than where I am — and I always stop in to catch up when I’m back in Raleigh.
The network that I’ve been able to form from the Wilson College of Textiles has helped me tremendously both in career advancement and also just in forming a great support network.
In what ways are you currently involved with the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State?
Currently, I am involved with the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council (DYALC). I have previously served as the chair of our communications committee, and I am excited to lead as co-president this year. This council has been a great way to stay involved with the college as we seek to get more young alumni interested in giving back and getting reconnected.
How did your education at the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for what you are doing today?
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the Wilson College of Textiles! A lot of what I learned in the classroom is really applicable to what I do on a day-to-day basis. More importantly, the network that I started forming while at the college has allowed me to make connections that have led to several job opportunities and helped me get to where I am today!
What advice do you have for current Wilson College of Textiles students?
Take advantage of all of the wonderful things that the college has to offer! It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be in another place again with so many opportunities and such a huge network of people who want to help you succeed. Start building your network as soon as possible, get to know your professors, get internships, be involved on campus and travel if possible!
Describe your career path.
Upon graduating in 2013, I started at Tex Tech Industries in Maine as a product development engineer. I worked on developing innovative nonwoven materials for the aerospace industry as well as ballistic vests, PPE, tennis balls and other industrial applications.
After a few years, I started a new position as a product development engineer at TenCate Protective Fabrics in Georgia. In that role, I focused on flame-retardant military clothing.
As I was seeking to advance my career, I had the opportunity to come to Alsico USA as a director of program analysis and coordination. Alsico was a cut-and-sew operation primarily focused on industrial workwear. I was able to oversee many aspects of the business and gain a lot of operations experience.
This led me to where I am currently: BioThane Coated Webbing. I started here as the director of research and development, focusing on managing our lab and developing new products for the company. After a few months, I also took on the role of director of sales and marketing for our industrial markets, including medical, safety and sports products.
It has been a fun challenge to take what I know about textiles but also add in a new element of plastics while also focusing on a new segment of the business.