Plastics Students Broaden Knowledge in Northern Ireland

Published 07.30.2009

Student News
Polymer Engineering

Seven students studying plastics and polymer engineering technology at Pennsylvania College of Technology recently returned from a study-abroad experience at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

The students studied specialized plastics processing techniques at the university's Polymer Processing Research Centre. They were the first to make the trip through a newly formed agreement between the university and Penn College.

"Studying at Queen's University broadened my knowledge of the plastics-manufacturing field because we learned so much about rotational molding and coextrusion there," said John E. Gudonis, of Danville.

"Studying at Queen's allowed us to experience an educational atmosphere other than what we are used to here in the United States," added Ryan L. Newman, of New Columbia. "We also were able to experience processing techniques that are not used here at Penn College, including multilayer rotomolding, blown film coextrusion, sheet coextrusion and multilayer tubing extrusion."

While Penn College's plastics program covers the basics of these processes, the Polymer Processing Research Centre has a nationally renowned program in rotational molding, including extensive laboratory equipment. Similarly, the center's facilities and curriculum for coextrusion are broad enough to allow its faculty to regularly publish research in this area. Still, they were impressed by the knowledge Penn College's students brought with them.

"All of the safety and operating techniques we learn here at Penn College surprised the faculty and staff at the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen's," Newman added. "The students that they have in their laboratories do not run or operate their machinery. They were very surprised and excited to have people who were knowledgeable of their equipment and operations to do experiments with."

During the eight-day trip, the students also toured Brow Pac, a local packaging company that uses extrusion, as well as cultural sites such as the Giant's Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, coastal villages and Belfast.

"This was my first trip to another country. "¦ It was nice to see how other people in this world live," Gudonis said.

The students who made the trip are eligible to receive three Penn College credits for the experience. Gudonis and Newman were joined by students James C. Gorham, of Mill Hall; Christopher E. Kohler, of South Williamsport; Bradley J. Stroup, of Mount Pleasant Mills; Alan J. Tate, of Williamsport; and Brennan B. Wodrig, of Hughesville. Kirk M. Cantor, professor of plastics technology at Penn College, accompanied the students.

Penn College also offers short-term study abroad trips to Italy, Japan, Mexico and Nicaragua, as well as several full-semester exchanges.

To learn more about study-abroad opportunities at Penn College, visit online or call 570-326-3761, ext. 5257.

For more information about Penn College, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.