Center Changing Name, Expanding Industry Outreach

Published 11.29.2011

Polymer Engineering
Workforce Development
Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies News

One of the nation's top centers for plastics research, development and education related to injection molding, blow molding, extrusion, rotational molding and thermoforming, will change its name, effective in January.

In an effort to expand its industry outreach, Pennsylvania College of Technology's Plastics Manufacturing Center will become the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center. The PIRC also will incorporate the newly formed Thermoforming Center of Excellence, dedicated to research and development, technical support and education within the thermoforming industry, and the Rotational Molding Center of Excellence, which is the first in North America for research and workforce training.

Penn College is a special mission affiliate of Penn State, committed to applied technology education. It is one of five colleges in the nation offering plastics degree programs accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The newly revised academic curriculum includes the first thermoforming and rotomolding courses of study in North America.

"The name change puts an emphasis on the needs of our partners," said C. Hank White, director. "We bring to the table an opportunity for businesses to affordably access the resources they need to spur innovation and achieve their potential."

Roger C. Kipp, vice president, engineering, McClarin Plastics Inc., and Ian Strachan, a technical and management consultant who also manages MGA Southern Africa Pty Ltd, are excited about the potential for Penn College partnerships.

"Companies need cost-effective ways to develop new ideas and train employees in new technologies," Strachan said. "Penn College offers access to incredible facilities, equipment and technical expertise. Through the college's resources, companies can explore new projects, materials and technologies without taking their own equipment and employees off the line."

Services offered include project and process development, materials analysis, CAD design and technical support. Training is offered on company sites and on campus, where participants have access to modern equipment valued at more than $2 million.

Courses range from plastics fundamentals, injection molding, blow molding and extrusion to parts design, mold design, material testing, additives and statistical process control. The college also holds national workshops and seminars that provide hands-on learning opportunities related to thermoforming, extrusion and rotational molding.

Participating employees can earn internationally recognized certifications, including Global Standards for Plastics Certification. Certifications are offered in injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming.

"I have seen direct benefits to businesses," Kipp said. "The college is able to provide a complete package of customized, confidential services at an affordable price. It can do needs analysis, develop training plans and show you how to increase profits through efficient use of technology. Every business can benefit from that kind of support."

White said the center also helps commercialize products and patents from design trials through manufacturing and helps companies meet new environmental requirements.

"Business needs are constantly changing," he said. "We are committed to helping our partner companies maintain an important edge in the industry."

The college is seeking new industry partners for the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center. To learn more, visit online or call 570-321-5533. The Penn College Admissions Office also is accepting applications for baccalaureate and associate-degree programs in plastics. More information is available online .