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Student-Produced Video Earns Prize in Industry-Sponsored Contest

A video created by students in plastics and polymer technology majors at Pennsylvania College of Technology was named the winner in the Society of Plastics Industry’s “Shaping Your World” student video contest.

SPI invited all college and graduate school students studying in plastics programs to submit original videos that honor plastics’ innovation. Members of Penn College’s Society of Plastics Engineers student chapter answered the call with a 2-minute, 48-second video that takes a lighthearted approach in attempting to show just how useful plastics are in everyday tasks.

The video , titled “Wake Up, It’s the Plastics Age!” opens with an image of a knight’s shining armor and asks, “Are we back in medieval times? No! We’re fighting with plastic! Lightweight, durable, tough, strong we’re even stopping bullets.” It goes on to cite examples of plastics’ indispensability in protecting us daily from such hazards as electrical shock (via wire coatings), flying debris (in helmets and safety glasses) and food-borne illness (in food packaging).

The video also touches on the plastics industry’s importance to the U.S. economy plastic food packaging alone was estimated to make more than $180 billion in 2011 and its contributions to a healthier environment through recycling, replacing more harmful materials such as lead piping, and reducing shipping weights.

“We definitely wanted it to be fun and engaging,” said Jason R. Paris, of Philadelphia, who plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in plastics and polymer engineering technology in May. Paris is president of the SPE student chapter.

Paris finds there is little understanding among his peers of what he is studying.

“Educating young people about plastics is, I think, crucial,” he said. “Open your eyes; just look around and you can see everything is engulfed in plastics. Still, people don’t know what it is, and that it’s really useful. We’re trying to get the point across.”

The student organization brainstormed ideas for the video and contributed still photos to the project. Paris and SPE Vice President John J. Kulhamer IV, of Northampton, compiled the photos and recorded the audio, with the help of friends in the college’s mass media communication major. Kulhamer, too, plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in plastics and polymer engineering technology in May.

“It was definitely fun,” Paris said. “It was a little difficult, because we’ve never made a video like this before. … It was gratifying.”

The video competed against about nine others from the nation’s other major plastics programs. (Some schools were represented by more than one video.)

The Penn College students’ first-place finish earned them a $2,000 cash reward, an iPad2 and admission to NPE2012, the International Plastics Showcase, in Orlando, Fla.

The student chapter will use the cash winnings to help pay for members to attend the Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) and NPE2012, which are held jointly in April.

The students have also received congratulations from the industry, including the Society of Plastics Engineers Susquehanna Section (the Penn College group’s parent chapter), which held its January meeting at the college. The group toured the college’s plastics facilities and contributed an additional $500 to the student chapter to help pay for its ANTEC expenses.

To learn more about plastics and polymer technology and other academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call 570-327-4520 or visit on the Web .

For more about Penn College, visit online , email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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