Student Represents Penn College Plastics Program in Harrisburg

Published 02.28.2005


Brad A. Piwowar, left, at the Capitol with state Rep. Brett O. Feese, who is a member of the Penn College Board of Directors.A Pennsylvania College of Technology student traveled to Harrisburg on Feb. 15-16 to demonstrate a new program through which the College lends plastics equipment to high schools.

Brad A. Piwowar of Williamsport, a senior in the College's Plastics and Polymer Engineering Technology bachelor-degree major, manned a booth in the Capitol Rotunda as part of Career and Technical Education Week, an event sponsored by the state Department of Education that showcases the importance of career and technical education for Pennsylvania students.

Accompanying Piwowar from the College were Dr. Kirk M. Cantor, professor of plastics and polymer technology; Kenneth J. Kinley, automated manufacturing/electronics service specialist; and Howard W. Troup, maintenance mechanic/millwright.

While students from Central Mountain High School (who had a booth next to the College's) demonstrated the skills they have learned on a mobile plastics laboratory that was at their school, Piwowar explained the program.

He spoke to many people from the general public, as well as high-school teachers, students and legislators. Those who stopped by the booth learned about the mobile plastics lab program and Penn College, and they either saw a demonstration or were able to use the equipment themselves, under Piwowar's instruction, to make their own plastic parts, including a keychain.

Using donations from the plastics industry, the College modified smaller versions of the industrial-size plastic equipment adding safety measures for the high-school students who will use it and placed everything on portable carts to create the mobile lab.

The four pieces of equipment that make up the portable lab represent four of the major processes used in the plastics industry. The lab typically remains in each school for three weeks. Piwowar delivers the mobile lab and provides technical support to the high schools.

"I keep in touch to make sure the equipment is running OK and that they don't have a problem," he said.

So far this school year, students at Warrior Run, Elkland, Milton Area and Central Mountain high schools have already had a turn using the lab. The lab is also expected to travel to Central Columbia, Gettysburg Area and State College Area high schools. While at the Capitol, Piwowar gave information to five more high schools who are interested in participating. Teachers from each of the schools that are already participating attended a training session for the mobile plastics lab last summer at Penn College.

Penn College student Todd P. Kennedy, Abbottstown, helped with the training. He also initiated the design and building of the equipment and helped to create instructional procedures for the high schools. Kennedy is a junior in the Plastics and Polymer Engineering Technology major.

While there are many job opportunities in plastics, most area high schools have little or no plastics equipment. Piwowar said he takes the opportunity in the high schools to make students aware of the plastics industry and available jobs, as well as the opportunities available at Penn College.

He also surveys the high-school teachers and students who use the equipment and has received positive feedback on the value of the program. All teachers have asked for the equipment to return to their classes next year. One high school requested a repeat performance for the current school year.

For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call (570) 327-4520, send e-mail or visit online.