News about Plastics & Polymer

Plastics Professionals Converge on Penn College Campus

The 20th Annual Extrusion Seminar & Hands-On Workshop at Penn College’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center attracted a group of industry professionals representing 28 companies in 11 states and Kuwait.

Plastics industry professionals representing 28 companies, 11 states and Kuwait enhanced their knowledge at the 20th Annual Extrusion Seminar & Hands-On Workshop at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center.

Forty participants attended the three-day session led by extrusion experts Chris Rauwendaal and Kirk M. Cantor. President of Rauwendaal Extrusion Engineering Inc. in Auburn, California, Rauwendaal has more than 40 years of industry experience. Cantor, a professor of plastics and polymer technology at Penn College, has taught extrusion for 30-plus years.

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Rotomolding Pros Share Perspective at Hands-On Workshop

Participants in the 10th annual Hands-On Rotational Molding and Advanced Materials Workshop take turns in Penn College’s polymer testing lab with Noah L. Martin (in checked shirt), of South Williamsport, a student and Plastics Innovation & Resource Center research assistant.

Marking a decade of intensive staff development for rotational-molding professionals, Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center recently hosted more than two dozen employees in another of its renowned industry conferences.

A total of 27 people from 15 companies – representing eight states and Alberta, Canada – attended the 10th annual Hands-On Rotational Molding and Advanced Materials Workshop on the college’s main campus on May 22-23.

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College Captures ‘Telly’ Award for Informational Video

Thomas F. Speicher

A video promoting a program in which high school students earn college credit garnered honors for Pennsylvania College of Technology in the 39th annual Telly Awards competition, representing the best work from advertising agencies, television stations, production companies and publishers worldwide.

A Bronze Telly in the “Non-Broadcast – General-Information” category went to a news video titled “High Schoolers Earn Free College Credits with Penn College NOW,” which showcased the Penn College NOW dual-enrollment program.

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Penn College’s SPE Student Chapter Wins Global Acclaim

Penn College plastics and polymer engineering technology students gather in Orlando, Fla., where their campus chapter of the Society of Plastics Engineers received worldwide recognition. Front row (from left): Lucas S. Poche, Lewistown; Nathan A. Rader-Edkin, Williamsport; Ryan M. Huling, Jersey Shore; Danial J. Kilinski, Montague, Mich.; David A. Pfahler, Telford; and Harold C. Lampe IV, Phoenixville. Back row (from left): Logan A. Tate, Williamsport, chapter president; Dante C. Fiamingo, Montoursville; Anthony P. Wagner, Williamsport; Andrew W. Woods, York; and Spencer L. Cotner, Muncy.

Members of the Society of Plastics Engineers’ student chapter at Pennsylvania College of Technology received an international award May 6 for their top-notch involvement in industry-related outreach.

Presented at ANTEC 2018 in Orlando. Florida – an annual technical conference for plastics engineers – the Outstanding Student Chapter Award recognizes groups whose programs, activities and participation are especially noteworthy. The college’s chapter was designated as No. 1 in the world for 2017-18, the first year that SPE has ranked its student affiliates.

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Plastics Students’ Pittsburgh Visit Furthers Industry Connections

The Penn College plastics team at Braskem, in front of the Pittsburgh skyline

Through the generous support of the Thermoplastic Materials & Foams Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers, 10 individuals from Pennsylvania College of Technology traveled to Pittsburgh on April 26-27 to tour the facilities of four major polymer material suppliers. Eight students and two faculty members from the college’s Department of Plastics and Polymer Engineering Technology visited PPG Industries, Braskem, Covestro and Nova Chemicals.

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SkillsUSA Competitors Strike Gold; 21 Students Headed to Nationals

SkillsUSA Pennsylvania

Nearly all 27 members of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s SkillsUSA team – 21 of them advancing to the 54th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky – earned medals during recent state competition.

The competitors represent majors across four of Penn College’s academic schools, and the theme for the April 18-20 Pennsylvania Leadership and Skills Conference in Hershey couldn’t have been more fitting for students gaining career-making skills in hands-on fashion: “Champions at Work: Job-Ready, Day One.”

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Cornfield Brainstorm Leads to Student’s Success in Plastics

An entrepreneurial idea spurred Anthony P. Wagner, of Williamsport, to pursue a bachelor’s degree in plastics and polymer engineering technology at Penn College.

Lying for hours in a cut cornfield waiting for unsuspecting waterfowl to become inviting prey gives a person plenty of time to think. Granted, the brown remnants of the fall’s harvest and gray morning sky aren’t typical ingredients for inspiration. But for Anthony P. Wagner, the setting was the birthplace of a dream.

A dream that requires him to trade his binoculars for safety glasses and camouflage for blue jeans.

The avid hunter is aiming for a rewarding future in the plastics industry. Thanks to his education at Pennsylvania College of Technology and proactive networking, Wagner is on target for career success.

“I honestly love plastics,” Wagner said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I enrolled. I knew I had an end goal and needed this education to reach that goal. It’s been quite the rollercoaster ride for me. It’s been awesome.”

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Local College Students Earn ROTC Scholarships, Contracts

Bald Eagle Battalion Army ROTC held a contracting ceremony April 3 at Penn College. From left are: Master Sgt. Steven Kowatch, senior military science instructor, Lock Haven University; Cadet Austin S. Weinrich, Jenkintown; Cadet Kaitlyn Barmore, Succasunna, N.J.; Cadet Casey A. Curtin, Berwick; Cadet Hayden N. Beiter, Williamsport; Cadet Jordan H. Murray, Chambersburg; Cadet Samuel D. Pollock, Wrightsville; Cadet Christopher T. Craig II, Rixford; Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour; and Maj. Jonathon M. Britton, professor of military science, Lock Haven University. Beiter, Craig, Curtin, Murray and Weinrich are Penn College students. Barmore and Pollock are students at Lycoming College.

Five Army ROTC cadets from Pennsylvania College of Technology and two from Lycoming College have been rewarded with scholarships and commissioning contracts for their dedication and perseverance.

Penn College scholarship recipients are residential construction technology and management: building construction technology concentration majors Hayden N. Beiter, of Williamsport, Jordan H. Murray, of Chambersburg, and Austin S. Weinrich, of Jenkintown; and plastics and polymer technology major Casey A. Curtin, of Berwick.

Christopher T. Craig II, an automotive technology management major from Rixford, earned a commissioning contract.

The scholarships cover all college expenses and provide a monthly stipend. The contracts include a stipend and funding for a portion of college costs. The scholarships and contracts both lead to a cadet’s commissioning as a second lieutenant upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree.

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Feb. 15 Festival to Excite Young Minds About Science, Careers

A Science Festival, featuring fun, hands-on activities geared to elementary- and middle-school students and their families, is slated for Thursday, Feb 15, in the Pennsylvania College of Technology Field House.

The event, scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m., is offered free to the community by Penn College and the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.

The Field House will be filled with hands-on activities presented by local organizations that include businesses, high school students, college faculty and students, the Society of Plastics Engineers’ PlastiVan, and the Carnegie Science Center, of Pittsburgh. The event is intended to make learning fun and to stimulate children’s interest in math, science, and exciting careers in related fields.

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Magazine Touts PIRC’s Contribution to Statewide Workforce

Penn College’s renowned Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, which incorporates hands-on learning across the industry’s varied production processes, is featured in the online Keystone Edge magazine. The article by news editor Elise Vider – headlined “At Penn College, Plastics Provide a Path to Success” – includes a Q&A with Shannon Munro, vice president for workforce development.

Professor’s Sabbatical Yields Virtual Adviser Prototype

Jeff L. Rankinen

During his sabbatical last spring, Jeff L. Rankinen planned to investigate the possibilities of artificial intelligence. The Pennsylvania College of Technology associate professor returned to the classroom this fall after transforming one of those possibilities into a reality.

Rankinen was part of a four-person team that earned $15,000 in funding to develop a “virtual adviser” as part of the Penn State EdTech Network’s Nittany Watson Challenge, which tasked entrants to improve the student experience via artificial intelligence. Just five of 39 teams were awarded $15,000 to create both a working prototype and minimum viable product in conjunction with IBM Watson, a technology platform focused on data analysis, natural language processing and machine learning.

“I thought the competition would be a good opportunity to learn more,” said Rankinen, who has taught electronics and computer engineering technology at Penn College since 1986. “I have been interested in artificial intelligence since beginning my graduate work at Penn State in 1987. It was very enriching to get immersed in artificial intelligence with IBM Watson during the competition.”

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Penn College Plastics Students Honored with Scholarships

Penn College students who recently received scholarships from the Society of Plastics Engineers include (from left) Rebecca J. Brown, of Conneaut Lake; Nicholas C. Moore, of Lock Haven; and Heather C. Fennell, of Hawley. All three students are seeking bachelor’s degrees in plastics and polymer engineering technology.

The leading technical society for the plastics industry has recognized three Pennsylvania College of Technology students as part of its 2017 scholarship program.

Plastics and polymer engineering technology students Rebecca J. Brown, of Conneaut Lake; Heather C. Fennell, of Hawley; and Nicholas C. Moore, of Lock Haven, received scholarships from the Society of Plastics Engineers. With more than 22,500 members in 84 countries, SPE promotes scientific and engineering knowledge related to plastics.

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Penn College Plastics Student Receives Additional Scholarships

Logan A. Tate

A Pennsylvania College of Technology plastics student has added to his impressive list of national scholarships.

The Society of Plastics Engineers recently announced that Logan A. Tate, of Williamsport, is the recipient of several scholarships for 2017. The plastics and polymer engineering technology major has been honored with the Blow Molding Division W. Muller Scholarship ($3,000), the Flexible Packaging Division Scholarship ($2,500), the Polymer Modifiers & Additives Division Scholarship ($2,000) and the Thermoplastic Elastomers SIG Scholarship ($1,000).

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Plastics Professionals Converge on Penn College Campus

Mark Strachan (in green shirt), senior technology director for First Quality Packaging Solutions in West Palm Beach, Florida, and former chairman of the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division, reviews results of a temperature change with participants at the Eighth Annual National Hands-On Thin-Gauge/Roll-Fed Thermoforming Workshop at Penn College’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center.

Plastics professionals representing 13 companies, nine states and Canada attended the Eighth Annual National Hands-On Thin-Gauge/Roll-Fed Thermoforming Workshop at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center.

Mark Strachan, senior technology director for First Quality Packaging Solutions in West Palm Beach, Florida, and former chairman of the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division, served as keynote instructor for the 24 participants. Penn College faculty and staff assisted Strachan throughout the three-day workshop.

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Roll-Fed Thermoformer Adds to Center of Excellence at College

Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager for Penn College’s Thermoforming Center of Excellence, operates the new equipment.

A custom-built, roll-fed, thin-sheet thermoformer is the latest addition to the Thermoforming Center of Excellence at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Thermoforming is a process by which plastic film or sheet is heated and then molded into three-dimensional shapes for such everyday uses as packaging, displays and components for a variety of transportation applications. The new equipment is a semi-commercial scale thermoforming machine that feeds rolls of plastic film into the thermoformer to produce and duplicate multiple formed packaging techniques used in industry.

According to Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager, Thermoforming Center of Excellence, “This equipment expands Penn College’s capability, which already includes a heavy-gauge thermoformer, to support additional (research-and-development) projects and teach incumbent workers and students using the latest technology.”

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Pennsylvania College of Technology is a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University