Behind the scenes with Jarne Saelens, project engineer

Published on 24-01-2022

Jarne SaelensWhat is your role at EconCore?
I am one of the four project engineers here at EconCore, currently I am mainly in charge of the further development of our recycled PET honeycomb core.

What's the best thing about your job?
What I love about my job is the variety. As we have a relatively small team with quite a few different projects not a lot of days are the same and we all get along really well making it a fun place to work.

What would you do during a typical day?
Due to the high variety this is difficult to say, out of the project engineers I would say that I spend the most time on mechanical testing and other analysis of the produced honeycombs or on full panels used in different panels and the subsequent reporting to the team or different customers/research partners.

How did you get into this industry?
I always found different materials and the difference in properties very intriguing, which is why I decided to study polymer processing at the KU Leuven in Bruges. In both my bachelor’s and master’s thesis I decided to investigate the sustainability/recyclability of sandwich panels during which I learned a lot about both honeycomb and sandwich technology.

What about the continuous honeycomb technology that surprises you?
What I still find amazing to this day is the variety in different polymers we can process into a thermoplastic honeycomb using the ThermHex process.

What has been the biggest impact/challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
As I graduated amidst the start of the pandemic the biggest challenge was to start my career. Due to this I also haven’t really had to chance to see what it would be like to work without the current restrictions caused by the coronavirus so I am still really looking forward to that.

Jarne SaelensWhat are you passionate about professionally or personally?
I am a firm believer in the sustainability and recyclability potential of plastics. Especially because they tend to be portrayed as heavy-polluting and non-recyclable in the media. This is also why I love working on the further development of a recyclable PET-based sandwich solution made out of recycled post-consumer PET waste material.

Have you learned anything new since you started?
Obviously! As we are a small team, I get to be involved in most aspects within the company making it so that even after 1 year of working here I still learn a lot on a daily basis.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
At the start I did find it quite challenging to very quickly learn to work independently on different projects. Now I find it most challenging to keep track of everything as there are unlimited skin-core combination variations and a lot of applications possible for sandwich panels using our continuously produced honeycomb core.

What is sustainability for you?
Sustainability for me is maximizing the efficiency in use of all materials with little to no waste, pollution and emissions. Thus, requiring a circular economy to create a closed-loop system with a strong focus on re-use and recycling and limiting energy recovery or landfill waste disposal methods as much as possible.