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Plastics Faculty Member Earns International Plastics Educator Award


Timothy E. WestonA Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty member who developed the plastics and polymer technology program at the college and became its first instructor in 1987 was named the 2006 recipient of the International Education Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers.

Timothy E. Weston, assistant professor of plastics and polymer technology, will receive the award during the Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference in Charlotte, N.C., on May 10.

Weston was praised by his nominators for his vision in not only educating and mentoring hundreds of plastics and polymer students at Penn College, but also for contributing to plastics education across the United States, both in the classroom and in industry, often taking a leading role.

“Mr. Weston has been a driving force in the field of plastics and polymers during his entire career. It is great to see his contributions to the profession recognized at this level,” said Lawrence J. Fryda, dean of industrial and engineering technologies at Penn College.

In addition to developing the college’s plastics and polymer technology associate degree, Weston led the effort to add a bachelor-degree program in plastics and polymer engineering technology in 1992.

In 1995, he helped to lead the accreditation process for the new degree program, leading the college to have only the fourth plastics program in the country accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission/The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Today, there are five accredited plastics programs.

In 1992, Weston helped lead the effort to form the Plastics Manufacturing Center at Penn College. The center provides training and consulting services for the plastics industry, as well as opportunities for Penn College students to participate in industry-relevant learning experiences, including research and development. While maintaining his teaching status, Weston served as the PMC’s first director.

Weston is also principal investigator for the Plastics Resources for Educators Program, which has received $1.9 million in grants from the Advanced Technology Education program at the National Science Foundation and offers state-of-the-art, multimedia teaching tools that educators can use to develop curriculum and teach their classes. The program, a joint effort between Penn College and The Pennsylvania State University, has brought together plastics educators from more than a dozen institutions to create the teaching materials.

In 2004, Weston and Fryda envisioned a mobile laboratory to educate high-school students about plastics processing through the use of tabletop molding equipment. The equipment, assembled by Penn College students, is rotated through high schools across Pennsylvania and enables secondary-school students to produce plastics parts while allowing high schools to make plastics education a regular part of their curriculum.

In addition to serving as department head of the Penn College plastics program from 1993-97 and from 2002 to the present, Weston has assisted other colleges in establishing their own plastics-education programs.

For SPE, Weston is chair of the international organization’s Student Activities Committee; serves as an officer for The Plastics Educators, an SPE division in formation that he was instrumental in establishing; and is the adviser for Penn College’s student chapter.

He is a past president of SPE’s Susquehanna Section, and he has served as technical chair of the society’s Education Division and as a board member of its Mold Making and Mold Design Division.

Weston earned a master’s degree in polymer science from Penn State and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lock Haven University. Before joining the Penn College faculty, he worked for the West Co. (now West Pharmaceutical Services) in various positions in plastics formulation, processing and analysis.

He has been principal investigator on several grant-funded projects, taught hundreds of plastics- industry seminars, organized several national plastics faculty workshops, published articles and (as a member of the PMC) received the Ben Franklin Academic Partner Award.

For more information about the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call (570) 327-4520, send e-mail or visit online .

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