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Student Success

Kylie Scott ’24: Undergraduate Research Opens the Door to Her Dream Job

Kylie Scott

Kylie Scott has always had an innate curiosity about how things are made and how they work. 

“I designed a fashion collection my senior year of high school, and I found myself really interested in using these utilitarian fabrics,” she says. “I would go to my teacher every day with the fabrics I’d bought at the store and ask her all these questions about what they were made of.”

Scott with her Senior Design team, who was partnered with HanesBrands to create socks that are cool to the touch.

With these interests, it’s no wonder that majoring in textile technology was the perfect fit. It also explains why she found her calling in nonwovens, which are often the answer to the question, “What’s that made of?” The materials, which are developed through chemical, mechanical and heat processes as opposed to weaving or knitting, are found in everything from cleaning wipes to building insulation. 

“I think my passion for the subject goes back to how diverse the technologies and the end use applications are. These highly engineered fabrics are everywhere,” Scott, who is graduating with a minor in nonwovens, says. “And the average person doesn’t know anything about them, hasn’t heard of them and doesn’t know what they look like.” 

Through the research experience for undergraduates (REU) and an independent study research course, Scott has spent the past year developing experience and knowledge in these fascinating fibers through The Nonwovens Institute. 

Next, she’ll continue her journey with nonwovens as a research and development engineer for Dynamic Air Quality Solutions. The company develops heating, ventilation and air conditioning filters designed to capture carbon to protect the environment. Scott has no doubt her uncommon level of expertise in nonwovens played a role in her hire. 

“I know they were specifically looking to hire someone with textile expertise, because none of their engineers have a background in textiles. That’s why they came to one of our career fairs at the college,” she says. “Even before they hired me, they were really interested in and impressed by The Nonwovens Institute, so my research experience was a big deal.”

What was your favorite class at the Wilson College?

Definitely the polymer chemistry class with Dr. Ford. It really solidified my love for polymers and the materials that we use, because that’s really what I’m interested in most. 

How did your undergraduate research experience impact you?

Aside from the nonwovens knowledge itself, It definitely taught me everything when it comes to experiments and research and developments from the bottom up. 

I remember that Dr. Mills, who runs REU, kept saying and reiterating that if your experiment doesn’t fail the first time, it wasn’t a good experiment. The important part is to learn how to overcome that and to figure out the best ways to address that and decide how to change your experiment. 

A scientific image from Scott’s research with The Nonwovens Institute.

Because I was working in the pilot line with raw materials, I got to design my own experiments and I had a lot of control. That gave me a lot of knowledge about the whole nonwovens process and without that experience I really don’t know if I would have landed this job. 

What has been your most meaningful experience at NC State?

Definitely the club water polo team. I played growing up and coached and played all of college until I got a concussion last year. When I came up here, I knew nothing about the area and I didn’t know anybody at NC State. So through water polo, I was able to kind of immediately develop a community and meet people that helped me go out of my comfort zone. I loved getting to travel to competitions and do something I really enjoyed with my friends.

What advice would you give your first-year self?

Be patient and stick with it. Between COVID and the fact that I’m a fifth-year student, it was one of those things where at times I didn’t know what the journey was going to look like. It can be so overwhelming at the beginning but all you can do is just take the waves as they come and just push through and know that the end is going to be there eventually.