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Mini-Disaster Leads to Lander Degree

Dan Martins
Photo by Laura Brown

The road to a Lander University degree started with state flooding for Greenwood-native Dan Martins.

In October 2015, Martins was working as a plant manager in Columbia, S.C., when lowcountry floodwaters destroyed the facility he was managing.

But, when he got involved in area recovery efforts, Martins saw firsthand how much the public and private sectors had to work together to bring relief to people who had lost more than a business facility.

The experience made him realize "how important emergency management skills are for manufacturing managers."

When he learned that Lander offered a Master of Science in Emergency Management, Martins enrolled in August 2017 as a non-traditional student for three semesters of studying, tests and practical applications, leading him toward a third college degree.

"I already had a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, and a Master's in Business Administration," he said. "After looking into Lander's M.S. in Emergency Management, I saw the value of this degree for a range of job opportunities, either as a plant manager, risk manager or emergency manager."

Now, he is using his newfound knowledge and degree to assist the Japanese company Teijin Carbon Fibers, Inc., in establishing a new carbon-fiber production facility in Greenwood.

"I am the facility's general plant manager," said Martins, who graduated from Lander in December 2018. "My role is to lead the development of the operations team, lead policies and procedures, and meet the organizational needs of the new plant. This includes the environmental, safety and hygiene programs - which align with many of the emergency management platforms learned at Lander."

The Teijin facility, which broke ground in 2018 during the company's 100th anniversary, is expected to create more than 200 jobs, with an investment of $600 million in Greenwood County by 2030.

Martins said between the flooding relief and the Teijin plans, the timing for his new degree couldn't have been better.

"My father was a career teacher and I have always had a desire to continue to learn," he said. "This degree aligns with my passion to keep people safe, as well as being a community partner to help those in need after a disaster."

Dr. Matt Malone, an assistant professor of political science, who taught Martins in six classes, said his only regret was not being able to keep him as a student.

"Dan excelled in our program based both on his prior work experience and his due diligence in his academic studies," Malone, who serves as coordinator of Lander's emergency management program, said. "He was a huge asset, and also spoke to one of my undergraduate classes about emergency management in the private sector."

Martins added that in addition to learning about preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation plans should an area disaster occur, his Lander courses also introduced him to how the local government, nonprofit organizations and the private sector all work together to strengthen the community.

"And that was important to me for my job with Teijin," he said, "because Teijin wants to be engaged in the community and the education of people to make Greenwood County an excellent place to live and work."

This story is featured in the Spring 2019 edition of Lander Magazine. Read more at www.lander.edu/magazine.

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