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PPL grant to support Penn College Plastics Mobile Lab


A $9,500 sustaining grant from PPL Foundation will allow Pennsylvania College of Technology to purchase instructional equipment for a Penn College Plastics Mobile Lab, a resource for educating groups about career opportunities and the ongoing demand for qualified workers in the plastics industry.

The PPL grant will fund the college’s purchase of tabletop rotational molder and thermoforming units for the mobile lab. The lab will offer a hands-on experience in various plastics operations for the participants, who will include students and educators attending events at area schools.

The Penn College Plastics Mobile Lab may also work in conjunction with SPE’s PlastiVan program, which travels to schools and companies throughout North America, educating people of all ages about plastics chemistry, history, processing, manufacturing, sustainability and applications.

Guided by Brennan B. Wodrig, program manager for Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, fifth-graders visiting a recent Science Festival at the college examine a part produced by a tabletop rotational molder, which was funded by a PPL Foundation grant.
Guided by Brennan B. Wodrig, program manager for Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, fifth-graders visiting a recent Science Festival at the college examine a part produced by a tabletop rotational molder, which was funded by a PPL Foundation grant.

The hope is that students who experience the Penn College Plastics Mobile Van firsthand can take a raw material, put it in a machine and produce a finished product, thereby inspiring them to consider pursuing a career in the plastics field. And when educators see that students are inspired, they will become more invested in providing the guidance and encouragement to pursue such opportunities.

“Many are not aware of the positive impact that plastics have in our everyday lives,” said Christopher J. Gagliano, Plastics Innovation & Resource Center project manager and lead on the Plastics Mobile Lab. “What better way to create a mobile plastics lab than to provide a simple means to demonstrate some of the processes used to manufacture products. Students, educators and parents can share in the experience of what makes plastics ‘cool!’”

“We are grateful for the continued support of PPL, said Elizabeth A. Biddle, director of corporate relations at Penn College. “They are a long-standing partner that is dedicated to hands-on technology education. This most recent grant continues to demonstrate their commitment to helping engage and teach ‘tomorrow makers.’”

“The plastics industry is growing in Pennsylvania, and similar to many manufacturing industries that PPL serves, plastics professionals are in high demand,” said Tracie Witter, regional affairs director, PPL Electric Utilities. “It is PPL’s pleasure to help support activities that engage young people with hands-on experiences in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations such as plastics manufacturing.”

From left, Tracie Witter, regional affairs director for PPL Electric Utilities; Shannon M. Munro, vice president for workforce development at Penn College; Beth M. Bittenbender, operations/special projects director for the college; and Elizabeth A. Biddle, director of corporate relations for the college, with grant-funded tabletop rotational molder and thermoforming units.
From left, Tracie Witter, regional affairs director for PPL Electric Utilities; Shannon M. Munro, vice president for workforce development at Penn College; Beth M. Bittenbender, operations/special projects director for the college; and Elizabeth A. Biddle, director of corporate relations for the college, with grant-funded tabletop rotational molder and thermoforming units.

The PPL Foundation Sustaining Grant program provides support to more than 70 nonprofit organizations across central and eastern Pennsylvania to strengthen education and support sustainable communities.

Penn College is one of six institutions nationwide offering plastics degrees that are accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET. For more about plastics majors, visit the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies.

The college also operates the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, a globally recognized leader in plastics education and training. The PIRC supports industry growth by providing companies with customized training and access to resources available through the college’s academic programs and facilities.

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

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