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Students Showcase Plastics Industry at State Capitol Event

Students Daniel M. Dietrich, Nazareth (left), and Ashlin R. Hollinger, Columbia, offer hands-on activities using a plastics vacuum thermoformer at Career and Technical Education Week events in Harrisburg. (Photo by Stacey C. Hampton, coordinator of matriculation and retention, School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies)Two students enrolled in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s plastics and polymer engineering technology major represented the college at the state’s Career and Technical Education Week celebration at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg.

Penn College was among 31 invited exhibitors from career and technical centers throughout the commonwealth and was chosen as a key presenter during the event’s opening ceremonies Feb. 13.

Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll opened the ceremonies by reading Gov. Edward G. Rendell’s proclamation for Feb. 11-17 to be named Career and Technical Education Week in Pennsylvania. In this proclamation, the governor “urged our communities, business leaders, and citizens to support vocational-technical education students and teachers as they invest their time and talent in our future.”

Throughout the celebration which was cut short because of snowstorms students Ashlin R. Hollinger, Columbia, and Daniel M. Dietrich, Nazareth, helped visitors use a plastic thermoform vacuum molder to make signs with pre-made letters and molds.

The thermoformer is one piece of the college’s mobile poly lab, which began making rounds to high schools throughout Pennsylvania during the 2004-05 school year and has been used in technical courses and chemistry classes.

Other pieces of the mobile laboratory were also displayed for visitors. In addition to a thermoformer, the lab consists of an injection blow molder, an injection molder and a rotational molder.

Each of the lab’s four units were assembled by Penn College plastics and polymer engineering technology students. Each unit includes a scaled-down version of industry-standard equipment, as well as the necessary instructions, materials and tools.

Penn College created the mobile plastics lab to help build interest among high school students in the material, process and design careers available in the plastics industry. At least 1,500 plastics companies call Pennsylvania their home, and many say there are not enough students entering the field to meet the increasing demand.

Joining the students in Harrisburg were Timothy E. Weston, assistant professor of plastics and polymer technology; Ken J. Kinley, automated manufacturing/electronics service specialist; and Stacey C. Hampton, coordinator of matriculation and retention for the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies.

For more information about plastics education at Penn College, career opportunities in the plastics field and the Penn College mobile lab project, call (570) 327-4520 or send e-mail .

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