College Honors Ben Franklin Technology Partners

Pennsylvania College of Technology salutes the Ben Franklin Technology Partners program for the funding support it has provided to the College and its Plastics Manufacturing Center over nearly two decades.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, based in State College, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, based in Bethlehem, have provided approximately $1 million worth of funding for equipment, faculty and staff for the College’s Plastics degree programs and the Plastics Manufacturing Center over the past 18 years.

Representatives of the centers were honored during a June 30 ceremony held at the College’s Le Jeune Chef restaurant on the main campus in Williamsport.

The relationship between Penn College and Ben Franklin Technology Partners began in 1986, when industry representatives approached the College about conducting a feasibility study for a degree program in plastics technology to provide area employers with a well-trained workforce.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania funded the feasibility study, as well as the initial program curriculum.

In 1993, industry asked for additional assistance. The College had been successful in implementing the degree program and producing qualified workers, but there still was a need to provide consulting and product-development services, as well as training for existing plastics-industry workers.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania agreed to provide start-up funding to staff the Plastics Manufacturing Center, which would work with industry and the College’s Plastics program to perform the services industry was requesting. The PMC opened in 1994 with nine charter-member companies.

By 2000, Pennsylvania’s plastics industry had expanded to include several rotomolding companies that had additional workforce and technology needs. Penn College requested funding assistance from both Ben Franklin Technology Partners centers for equipment and curriculum, and once again the centers responded this time providing funding for a Rotational Molding Center of Excellence.

“This award is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when industry, government and education partners combine resources to satisfy the needs of the region,” said Penn College President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour. “Penn College shares the common vision of these organizations and feels privileged to work with them toward increasing the workforce and economic-development infrastructure.”

Accepting awards from the College were Dr. Vic Russo, president and chief executive officer of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania; and R. Chadwick Paul Jr., chief executive officer of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“The contributions of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners in creating the infrastructure at Penn College have been invaluable,” said Larry L. Michael, associate dean for technology transfer. “Without the Ben Franklin investment, Penn College would not have been able to provide the curriculum, equipment, workforce training or product-development services at the level requested by industry.”

Since the degree program started, over 230 associate’s and bachelor’s degrees have been awarded by the Plastics program at Penn College. In addition, more than 200 companies have been assisted with product and process development, and more than 500 companies have benefited from noncredit outreach training seminars and workshops.

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