Corporate Support Helps College Promote Plastics-Industry Careers
Pennsylvania College of Technology is embarking on a project to build interest among high-school students for careers in the plastics industry.
With financial support from some Pennsylvania companies and an industry group, Penn College has purchased four pieces of "tabletop" plastics-manufacturing equipment that demonstrate the fundamental processes used in the industry: an injection-molding machine, a blow-molding machine, a thermoforming machine and a rotational-molding machine.
The equipment has been installed on carts, which also will carry related tools and materials. The machines will be rotated among high schools and vocational-technical schools in Pennsylvania to give students hands-on experience with the basic tools, processes and materials of the plastics industry.
Over the summer, faculty in the College's Plastics Department held training sessions on the main campus in Williamsport, showing teachers from several high schools and vocational-technical schools in northcentral Pennsylvania how to use the equipment. The program will expand later to include schools from other parts of the state.
Penn College is one of a handful of colleges and universities in the nation with a certified program in Plastics and Polymer Technology. Graduates find excellent career opportunities, but industry experts say there are not enough students entering the career field. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 1,500 plastics companies.
"The plastics industry continues to grow in Pennsylvania," said Dr. Lawrence J. Fryda, dean of industrial and engineering technologies. "Penn College hopes to help high-school students become more aware of the employment opportunities in this field and the technical skills needed for success."
Startup costs for the initiative were offset by generous donations from an industry organization, The Society of Plastics Engineers, ThermoForming Division; and eight companies: Alcan Cable, Williamsport; PPL Corp., Allentown; Arrow International Inc., Reading; Washington Penn Plastic Co. Inc., Washington; McClarin Plastics Inc., Hanover; West Pharmaceutical Services Inc., Lionville; Quadrant Engineering Plastic Products, Reading; Double-H Plastics, Inc., Warminster; and Kensey Nash Corp., Exton.
Penn College, a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University, also operates the Plastics Manufacturing Center, which works with industry to help solve product-development challenges.