Students to Present Mobile Poly Lab During Event at State Capitol

Published 02.03.2006

Polymer Engineering

Pennsylvania College of Technology's mobile poly lab will be featured during the opening ceremonies of the state's Career and Technical Education Week celebration, which is scheduled to begin at noon on Feb. 14 in the State Capitol East Wing Rotunda.

During the opening ceremony, which Gov. Ed Rendell is expected to attend, Penn College students Matthew L. Gross, of Dover, and Todd P. Kennedy,of Abbottstown, will demonstrate a thermoformer that is part of the college's portable plastics laboratory. The event will be televised and webcast on the state Department of Education's Web site.

Penn College is one of four schools invited to present during the opening ceremonies. Also presenting will be Dauphin County Technical School, Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center, and Berks Career and Technology Center.

The college and its mobile poly lab will also be among 26 schools to host educational displays in the Capitol Rotunda throughout the two-day celebration on Feb. 14-15. Students from Schuylkill Technology Centers and Central Mountain High School will help with the mobile poly lab display.

The lab includes four units (all assembled by Penn College plastics and polymer engineering technology students) that represent four of the primary processes that are used to manufacture plastic parts. Each unit includes a scaled-down version of industry-standard equipment, as well as the necessary instructions, materials and tools. The lab began circulating to high schools throughout Pennsylvania during the 2004-05 school year and has been used in technical courses and chemistry classes.

Penn College created the mobile plastics lab to help build interest among high school students in material, process and design careers available in the plastics industry. At least 1,500 plastics companies call Pennsylvania their home, and many say there are not enough students entering the field to meet the increasing demand. The average salary for new Penn College plastics graduates is $40,600.

Costs to support the development and startup of the mobile plastics lab were offset by donations from the plastics industry.

A student from the Penn College plastics program escorts the lab to each high school to set up the equipment and provide high school students and faculty with an introduction to equipment operation and safety.

In addition, each school that uses the equipment must send at least one teacher to a summer training program at Penn College to learn to use(and teach with) the mobile lab.

For more information about plastics education at Penn College, career opportunities in the plastics field and the Penn College mobile lab project, call (570) 327-4520 or send e-mail.