News about Plastics & Polymer

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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International Expertise Abounds at Rotomolding Workshop

Matthew Jackson, of Tennant Co., Minneapolis, a participant in a recent Rotational Molding Workshop at Penn College, attaches a radio telemetry system to a rotational mold to measure internal air temperature.

Scores of industry professionals gathered at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center this summer for advice about rotational molding from well-versed – and well-traveled – authorities in the field.

A total of 42 participants from 26 companies – representing 16 states, as well as Canada and Mexico – attended the ninth annual Hands-On Rotational Molding Workshop on the college’s main campus in June.

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Penn College Extrusion Workshop Proves Popular

Adam C. Barilla, instructor of plastics and polymer technology at Penn College, demonstrates tensile testing to participants during the 19th annual Extrusion Seminar & Hands-On Workshop at the college’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center. (Photo by Tia G. La, student photographer)

Nationwide plastics industry professionals converged at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s renowned Plastics Innovation & Resource Center for the 19th Annual Extrusion Seminar & Hands-On Workshop.

Forty-three participants, representing 20 companies and nine states, attended the three-day event led by extrusion experts Chris Rauwendaal and Kirk M. Cantor. Rauwendaal is president of Rauwendaal Extrusion Engineering Inc. in Auburn, California; Cantor is a professor of plastics and polymer technology at Penn College. Combined, the duo has approximately 70 years of experience in plastics.

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Penn College Plastics Student Honored With SPE Scholarship

Logan A. Tate

A Pennsylvania College of Technology plastics student is one of three nationwide recipients of a scholarship from the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division.

Logan A. Tate, of Williamsport, received the Thermoforming Division Memorial Scholarship, worth $2,500. The honor also includes an invitation to the 26th SPI Thermoforming Conference from Sept. 11-13 in Orlando, Florida, where he will be recognized at the Thermoforming Awards Dinner.

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Foundation Establishes Endowed Scholarship at Penn College

Debra M. Miller, college relations advisor at Penn College, accepts a Herman O. West Foundation grant from Dave Lanzer, director of operations at West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. The grant will be used to establish an endowed scholarship at the college.

The foundation for a global manufacturer is recognizing Pennsylvania College of Technology’s commitment to the skilled workforce with an endowed scholarship at the school.

The Herman O. West Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to Penn College to establish the scholarship. Named in honor of the founder of West Pharmaceuticals Services Inc., the foundation has supported employees through scholarships and matching gift programs since 1972.

West Pharmaceutical Services is a leading manufacturer of packaging components and delivery systems for injectable drugs and health care products. The company has manufacturing plants throughout the world, including Williamsport and Jersey Shore.

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2016’s Deadliest Quake

A building's upper level lies on the sidewalk in a coastal Ecuador city.

From the Spring 2017 Penn College Magazine: Ecuador resident Patrick Watts, ’09, helps those affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled the nation’s coast. Read “2016’s Deadliest Quake.”

Senator From York County Tours Penn College Campus

President Davie Jane Gilmour escorts Sen. Wagner through the welding labs with the assistance of welding students Thomas (“TJ”) J. Sneeringer (in red) and Joseph (“Joey”) M. Taylor, both of Hanover.

Wagner discusses his waste-management and trucking businesses with diesel technology students alongside a diesel truck outside College Avenue Labs.

In the automotive restoration lab, the senators listen to insights shared by Vanessa Mathurin, of Philadelphia, and Sean M. Hunter, of Livingston, N.J. The students are automotive restoration technology graduates enrolled in applied management.

Touring the extrusion lab, Elizabeth A. Biddle, director of corporate relations, discusses the specialties of the plastics and polymer engineering technology major and the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center.

Sen. Scott Wagner, who represents the 28th District, comprising most of York County, toured the Pennsylvania College of Technology campus on Thursday as the guest of Sen. Gene Yaw, chairman of the college’s Board of Directors. Wagner, who is president and owner of York-based Penn Waste Inc. and KBS Trucking, Thomasville, is a declared candidate for governor. While on campus, he toured the labs for welding, automotive restoration/collision repair and plastics. Wagner once studied at Penn College’s immediate predecessor institution, Williamsport Area Community College, in the diesel program. In the Senate, Wagner chairs the Local Government Committee and is vice chairman of the Labor & Industry Committee. He also sits on the Appropriations, Transportation and Intergovernmental Operations committees.

PlastiVan’s Visit Showcased in Industry Publications

Thermoforming Quarterly

February’s extended visit from the PlastiVan is featured in the latest issue of Thermoforming Quarterly, a Journal of the Thermoforming Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers. Photos by Larry D. Kauffman, a digital publishing specialist/photographer at Penn College – including a cover shot taken at the Feb. 16 Science Festival in the Field House – and a two-page article colorfully recap the hands-on peek at plastics careers: Thermoforming Quarterly

The PlastiVan is also featured in a piece by Eve Vitale, SPE Foundation director, published in Plastics Engineering.

PIRC Partner Donates Plastics Processing Equipment to College

Covestro LLC donated a complete advanced co-extrusion sheet processing unit to Pennsylvania College of Technology, where faculty and students will receive on-site training from company experts.

A longtime proponent of STEM education in the United States is giving students at Pennsylvania College of Technology valuable hands-on experience through its donation of plastics processing equipment.

As part of its i3 Give corporate giving program, Covestro LLC has donated a complete advanced co-extrusion sheet processing unit to Penn College. Covestro will also provide faculty and students with expert on-site training – including demonstration tooling – to initiate the project.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to help Penn College elevate its curriculum in this tangible way,” noted Mark Matsco, director of application development for Covestro LLC. “Giving students access to this equipment not only enhances their skill set, but also helps us continue our mission to support improved STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.”

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Penn College Embraces the PlastiVan

The Society of Plastics Engineers’ PlastiVan program recently visited Penn College to educate area students about the wonders of plastics and the rich career opportunities in the field. Students enjoyed hands-on activities revealing the power of plastics and toured the college’s plastics labs. Sekisui SPI sponsored the PlastiVan’s visit at the college, which is featured in this YouTube video:

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Company Establishes Plastics Scholarship at Penn College

Penn College plastics students work in an extrusion lab under the direction of Gary E. McQuay, center, engineering manager for the Plastics Innovation Resource Center at the college. Sekisui SPI, part of Sekisui Chemical Co., is establishing a scholarship for first-year plastics students at Penn College.

A leading global thermoplastics company will reward students’ interest in plastics by establishing two $7,000 scholarships at Pennsylvania College of Technology for Fall 2017.

Preference for the Sekisui SPI Workforce Development Scholarship will be given to first-year students seeking a bachelor’s degree in plastics and polymer engineering technology, who reside in Pennsylvania or Michigan and rank in the top third of their high school graduating class.

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