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Plastics Workshop Proves Popular to Industry Professionals

Summer is anything but vacation time for the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology. The PIRC recently hosted 34 industry professionals from 10 states and Canada for its Sixth Annual National Hands-On Thin-Gauge/Roll-Fed Thermoforming Workshop.

The three-day course featured presentations from industry experts and hands-on sessions focusing on materials testing and operating and troubleshooting thermoforming equipment.

“It’s rewarding that this annual workshop attracts a variety of top experts and professionals from the plastics industry,” said Christopher J. Gagliano, PIRC program and technical service manager. “The interest in the workshop is a testament to our talented staff and the excellent facilities we enjoy at Penn College.”

At left, Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager for the Thermoforming Center of Excellence at Penn College, watches lab assistant Jacob W. Fry evaluate the wall thickness of a container produced in the thermoforming lab.
At left, Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager for the Thermoforming Center of Excellence at Penn College, watches lab assistant Jacob W. Fry evaluate the wall thickness of a container produced in the thermoforming lab.

Eighteen companies were represented by the attendees, who came from Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. The students left Penn College very impressed.

“This workshop is an awesome share of information, knowledge and expertise that greatly reduces your learning curve,” said Ed Lengen, of Multi-Plastics Extrusions in Hazleton.

Thomas Weikel, of Brentwood Industries in Reading, referred to the course as “the most worthwhile workshop” that he has attended. “I have come away from this workshop with some very valuable information that I can directly apply to the tooling and machinery that we design and manufacture in-house,” he said.

Weikel’s co-worker, Kevin Brinton, agreed. “I learned tons of new information every day and solidified any previous understanding of the process from start to finish,” he said.

The workshop featured several speakers: keynoter Mark Strachan, senior technology director for First Quality Packing Solutions in West Palm Beach, Florida; Matthew Banach, director of sales for Processing Technologies International in Aurora, Illinois; Conor Carlin, sales and marketing manager for CMT Materials in Attleboro, Massachusetts; Vijay Kudchadkar, engineering manager at Compuplast Canada in Mississauga, Ontario (Canada); and Julie Griswold, sales/customer service at W.R. Sharples Company in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Penn College faculty members Kirk M. Cantor, assistant professor of plastics and polymer technology, and Joseph E. LeBlanc, instructor of physics, also presented.

Several PIRC staff members shared their expertise in the workshops, including Gagliano; Gary E. McQuay, PIRC engineering manager; and PIRC lab assistants Jacob W. Fry, Ian Killian, Noah L. Martin and Madison T. Powell.

Penn College is one of just five colleges in the nation offering plastics degree programs accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET. For information on the plastics degrees and other majors offered by the School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

The PIRC is one of the top plastics technology centers in the nation for research, development and education related to injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, rotational molding and thermoforming. Its Thermoforming Center of Excellence is a technical resource offering independent, hands-on applied research and development to the thermoforming community.

To learn more about the PIRC and the Thermoforming Center of Excellence, call 570-321-5533.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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