Engineering Alumni Spotlight: Kevin Mayne
Kevin Mayne’s education in the Wayne State University College of Engineering taught him the value of being a problem solver. This skill has served him well in a career spent largely at L&L Products, a global materials science and applied engineering company with offices in Romeo, Michigan. Mayne, who earned a bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 2005, is a research and development technical specialist, creating solutions for clients in the automotive industry looking for ways to create lighter, stronger and quieter products.
Can you please describe your career path?
I think I’ve had a very diverse career path since graduating from Wayne State despite having only worked at three companies. I started my career working in a very small contract research and development company working mainly on a process to reclaim automotive seating foams at their end of life and transform them into a renewable raw material. From there, I moved on to my first of what would eventually be two stays at my current company, L&L Products, where I’ve taken on several different roles through the years.
I originally started working on developing several different types of automotive expanding sealants which are unique to L&L. I then transitioned into a more traditional chemical engineering role working on the processing and scale-up side of formulations as they moved out from R&D and onto the manufacturing floor. At this point in my career I chose to relocate to Dublin, Ohio to be with my wife as she entered optometry school at Ohio State. I took a position as a materials engineer working in the paint department of a Honda manufacturing plant. In this role I was responsible for ensuring not only the quality of the paint being applied, but also maintaining the overall color harmony of a vehicle — so if you bought a CRV or RDX in the last few years and the bumpers color didn’t quite seem to match the bodies color, that was definitely not my fault.
I eventually returned to L&L Products where in my current position I work on development of innovative expanding epoxy-based adhesives for the automotive market.
Describe the ways you’ve stayed connected to Wayne State since graduation.
For the first few years it was solely through the homecoming game (GO WARRIORS!). As my career advanced, I had opportunities to engage with WSU on a more professional level through partnerships with business for funded research or testing services. In the last four years, I’ve become much more involved thanks to the wonderful Industry Mentor Program.
When I heard about this program, my first thought was “I wish I had an opportunity like this when I was an undergrad.” I’ve had such a positive experience with the program — talking with first-year students, answering questions and giving them guidance based on my experiences about their prospective degree. I’m still in contact with many of the students that I’ve mentored. I also recently had the honor of being asked to join the Industrial Advisory Board for the Department of Chemical Engineering. I hope to be able to positively impact the program so that future Wayne State chemical engineers will continue to be in high demand in the workplace.
With what other organizations do you volunteer, and what are your hobbies and interests?
I volunteer through a program called Life Remodeled which helps to renovate buildings and community spaces in Detroit, one block at a time. In my spare time, I’m usually on a tennis court or a golf course, or trying a new recipe.
Why did you choose to attend Wayne State?
I chose Wayne State because they have one of the best chemical engineering programs in the state. I was also fortunate enough to receive a scholarship for four years of tuition.
What student organizations or teams were you part of at Wayne State?
I was a member of the student chapter for AIChE (American Institute for Chemical Engineers).
How did your education at Wayne State prepare you for what you are doing today?
I think that, like most programs, it’s not always about what you learn, but how you learn. My career path took me a little further away from being a “traditional” chemical engineer, so while I may not be designing distillation columns, I can easily apply the problem solving skills I learned throughout my education to my current job. WSU did a great job of providing me with the skills and knowledge to succeed no matter how different my current job is compared to what I thought I would be doing as a fresh graduate.
Who influenced you the most during your time at Wayne State?
Dr. Jeffrey Potoff. He taught the introductory class in chemical engineering (CHE 2800: Materials and Energy Balances), where you got your first taste of what your core classes were going to be about. I remember that during one particularly bad winter storm, I was the only student to show up for class, but instead of cancelling the class, Dr. Potoff gave me a personalized lecture. I had never been more engaged in a class than I was that day, and what stuck with me more was the discussion we had towards the end of that class about my future career. Dr. Potoff said something along the lines of, “we are not training just specifically chemical engineers; we are training the world’s best problems solvers.” That statement has stuck with me to this day because it’s not always about finding the answer, it’s about the path you take to get there.
What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their experience at Wayne State?
1) Do not be afraid to engage with your professors if you are struggling to understand something and have put in good time on your own trying to understand it. Your professors want you to succeed but you must ask for help first.
2) Join your student chapter of your professional organization. They will have great resources to help you both during your time at WSU and helping you get that first job after graduation.