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College’s Plastics Resources to Be Touted at European Conference

European visitors’ recent first impression of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center will lead to a second look when they promote the facility to a continental conference next year.

The four international guests and their American host talked with employees and students in labs featuring each of the college’s five plastics processes (injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, rotational molding and thermoforming) during a March tour of the PIRC and its Thermoforming Center of Excellence.

The group also learned from Director C. Hank White about the PIRC’s role in helping the industry remain competitive.

Christopher J. Gagliano (left), program and technical service manager for the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, leads European visitors through Penn College’s Thermoforming Center of Excellence.
Christopher J. Gagliano (left), program and technical service manager for the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, leads European visitors through Penn College’s Thermoforming Center of Excellence.

“We want to be the place to go in North America for training and research and development,” White told the group.

The goal of the tour (sponsored by the National Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Board Executive Committee) was to showcase the facilities to the mutual benefit of the PIRC and its potential international partners, and – judging from the response – it was an objective well-met.

“Our visit was indeed an eye-opener!” said Jeff Pitt, director of Plas-Logic Ltd. in the United Kingdom. “In Europe (and, in particular, the U.K.) there has been a lack of comprehensive ‘ground roots’ training for students and apprentices wanting to follow a specific practical plastics technology.”

“The norm for training in that sector has been basic, practical engineering courses,” he explained, followed by more specific training “downstream” – more often than not the direct responsibility of employers.

“To have the facility on offer at Penn College would relieve the employer of that burden and would, in my view, be a great attraction,” Pitt said. “To that end, we will promote (the PIRC) to the European audience that attends our 2016 European Thermoforming Conference in Barcelona.”

Pitt was accompanied by Andy McGarry, managing director at Cox Wokingham Plastics, also in the U.K.; Lars Ravn Bering, managing director at Gibo Plast, Denmark; and Francois Berry, president at Top Clean Packaging, France. Joining the contingent were Katherine Skopp, a state Department of Community and Economic Development consultant, and J.P. Tambourine, manager of economic development for FirstEnergy.

The visit was coordinated by Ed Probst, principal at Probst Plastics Consulting LLC in Wisconsin.

For more information about the PIRC, call 570-321-5533.

For more about the college – one of only five plastics programs in the nation offering degrees accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET – email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

– Photos by Tom Wilson, writer/editor-PCToday

Guests ascend the thermoformer, operated by Jared W. Mahaffey (left), a plastics and polymer engineering technology major from Linden.
Guests ascend the thermoformer, operated by Jared W. Mahaffey (left), a plastics and polymer engineering technology major from Linden.

Visitors get a look at blow-molding machinery …

... which transforms a plastic tube (such as the one displayed by White) into a water bottle.
… which transforms a plastic tube (such as the one displayed by White) into a water bottle.

Jeff Pitt talks about industrial training needs in the United Kingdom – needs that could be met via cooperation with a facility such as the PIRC.
Jeff Pitt talks about industrial training needs in the United Kingdom – needs that could be met via cooperation with a facility such as the PIRC.

On hand as the contingent tours the thermoforming lab is Ed Probst (right), who facilitated the visit to North American manufacturing interests.
On hand as the contingent tours the thermoforming lab is Ed Probst (right), who facilitated the visit to North American manufacturing interests.

Gary E. McQuay, PIRC engineering manager, enlightens guests during a stop in the rotational molding lab.
Gary E. McQuay, PIRC engineering manager, enlightens guests during a stop in the rotational molding lab.

 

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