"The possibilities in the plastics industry are endless. Since so much of our world today is plastic, it is easy to find an industry you find fascinating or care about and make a career out of it. Just like the saying ‘if you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life."
- Polymer Engineering
His interest in plastics and polymers began in high school while working with his father at Shop-Vac. Dalton was intrigued with injection molding and decided that was the career path for him. He earned his bachelor's in Plastics & Polymer Engineering Technologies from Penn College in 2019. Today he's working as a Process Engineer and Technical Supervisor at Clarion Technologies, Inc. in South Carolina.
Q&A with Dalton
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN PLASTICS & POLYMERS?
After high school I got a job working with my father at a plastic injection molding company, Shop-Vac. Once I spent some time there, I was intrigued by some of the jobs people were doing and I wanted to learn more. Fast forward to me deciding a major, my father recommended that I look into Penn College’s plastics and polymers program. Once I started taking classes and learned more about how to make a plastic part, I was hooked and haven’t looked back since.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A HANDS-ON EDUCATION?
Growing up I found out fairly quickly that I was a visual/ hands-on learner. Helping my father around the house with handy-man tasks was common, so when it became time to decide what I wanted to do for a job/career, I knew I had to be doing something where I was using my hands every day.
HOW ARE PROFESSIONALS LIKE YOU REIMAGINING THE FUTURE OF PLASTICS?
The common misconception with the ‘plastic is bad’ argument is that people only think about the single-use plastic they see on the ground. Plastic is so much more than that. Something I believe people don’t think about is how it is impossible to go a single day in your life without coming into contact with plastic parts. Cars, phones, fridge interiors, cooking utensils, TVs, medical equipment, etc. We do not have modern medicine, transportation, or appliances without plastics. The plastics industry is constantly evolving toward finding new ways to make everyone’s life easier through the use of plastic parts, along with more efficient ways to recycle to help the environment.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR CURRENT POSITION TO REDUCE WASTE?
Here at Clarion, we are constantly reusing plastic and reprocessed materials. If a part is scrapped and deemed ‘not good’ we will regrind that part and reuse that material to make another part. We do not let material go to waste. If we use a material that we are unable to regrind and reuse, we find local recyclers who are able to recycle the plastic we can not reuse.
REFLECTING ON YOUR TIME AT PENN COLLEGE, WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST?
I enjoyed the hands-on portion of Penn College the most. The plastics professors are so intelligent that they made it simple to go from learning in the classroom to applying what we learned on the machines in the lab. Without the lab portions of the program, I would have had a difficult time grasping all of the knowledge gained and applying it to the real world.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Since Clarion is a custom molding company, we receive jobs from all different industries which gives me the experience of seeing a very wide range of parts, materials, and tools. Every day is something new and I enjoy being a part of so many industries that are evolving and constantly manufacturing ideas to make more intricate solutions to existing problems.
Plastics & Polymer Engineering Technology
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