NPE2018 Show Daily - Friday

NPE is truly ‘Breaking the Mold’ as a multifaceted experience, with activities, discoveries and opportunities to satisfy the needs of anyone who works in the plastics industry or has a need to know about plastics

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 101 of 103

FRIDAY NPE 2018 : THE PLASTICS SHOW SHOW DAILY The Long View Robert Malloy has been helping train plastics industry workers at the university level for more than 30 years. Malloy joined the faculty of the plastics engineering program at the University of Massachusetts (UMass Lowell) in 1985, eventually becoming program chair before transitioning to a professor emeritus at the school. Malloy first came on campus at UMass Lowell 40 years ago as an undergradu- ate student, and in the intervening years he's seen both change and stasis in how students are readied to work in plastics. However, the demand for trained people, while it has ebbed and flowed somewhat, has remained constant. "Education is like a pipeline," Malloy says, "and it takes four or five years for a student to pass through our program. So while the de- mand is there today, the student that's com- ing here today isn't going to graduate for four or five years. So there's this lag time where the work force just takes a while to generate." David Kazmer, current chair of UMass Lowell's plastics engineering program, notes that the pipeline coming from his school is full, with enrollments currently at an all-time high. In fact, the school brought a delegation of students to NPE2018 and is located in booh WL16. At the previous peak in the 1970s, Kazmer says approximately 50 to 60 students would graduate annually. The largest classes today—freshmen and junior years— have 75 students each, with approximately 340 total across the program. Kazmer says that job placement for those students is the best across all of UMass Low- ell, with graduates signing on everywhere from Apple, Tesla, and General Electric to Berry Plastics, Milacron, Wittmann Battenfeld, and more. Over the last six years, in fact, UMass Lowell plastics engineering grads have gone to 110 different companies. UMass Lowell has some company in offer- ing a plastics engineering program, but com- pared with other disciplines, the number of plastics options in academia is disproportion- ately small relative to the number of people who eventually have to work with these materials. Online university database Cappex lists 13 schools with a polymer/plastics engineering major (although its list omits some well- known programs, including Ferris State and Pittsburg State). Across the U.S., only four of those have ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology) accreditation: UMass Lowell, University of Wisconsin Stout, Penn State Behrend, and Pittsburg State University. These programs will feed a constant, if small, stream of qualified people into the plastics pipeline; but for Malloy and others, the flow could be greatly increased if related programs, particularly mechanical engineer- ing, gave more than passing attention to plas- tics in their courses. In addition to his work at UMass Lowell, Malloy provides plastics training at corporations, where he sees this gap in many engineers' education first-hand. "I always wonder, 'Why aren't they doing more in plastics?'" Malloy says. "I ask these mechanical engineers when I teach a course at a company, 'What did you do in plastics education? How much plastics education did you have?' And it's always very little. I don't understand how they can be designers of plastic parts if they haven't had any courses in chemistry, plastic materials, or manufac- turing of plastics." Meeting an Industry Need In 2015, appreciating the need to help peo- ple in industry working with plastics that were not educated in plastics, the American Injection Molding Institute (AIM) was created by Beaumont Technologies Inc. (Booths S29023, W2193). David Hoffman, director/ instructor, Plastics Education & Training at AIM, says that since that time, 63 students have graduated from its Plastics Technology & Engineering (PTE) Certificate program, which received ANSI accreditation this past December, with three more classes currently in progress. Helpful, no doubt, but a drop in the proverbial bucket compared with what's needed, Hoffmann says: "If you look at the number of people who graduate from plastics engineering or plastics technology programs in the U.S. every year, it's in the hundreds, and demand for engineering and technolo- gists in the industry is huge." From left to right, Caleb Thompson, Camille Holman, Lexington Peterson, and Colton Paasch all from the Plastics program at Pittsburg State University College of Technology. Next Generation, continued from page 1 By contrast, in 2015, 35,730 mechanical engineering degrees were awarded in the U.S., according to DataUSA. How many of those people know polyethylene from poly- propylene? Like Malloy, Hoffman does his own survey of AIM's students—and gets simi- lar results. "We take an informal poll in every class," Hoffman says. "We ask, 'How many people have actually gone to school for plas- tics?' Rarely do people raise their hands, and yet, these people are working in the plastics industry, and nobody has told them anything about this stuff." Instructor Gap The good news for the industry is that at the university level, interest in plastics engineer- ing is extremely strong. The bad news: Schools are starving for qualified instructors, particularly those with knowledge of process- ing. "Finding faculty that have that blend of theory and practice is really a limiting factor," Kazmer says. "Finding teachers is a very significant challenge," Malloy agrees. "Getting students these days, with the demand for graduates, is not a problem, but getting qualified faculty is a problem and it's not just a matter of salary." Here again, the lack of plastics-specific coursework in U.S. engineering programs poses a challenge. "There are very few universities in the Unit- ed States that have high-level programs in plastics processing," Malloy notes, pushing UMass Lowell to look abroad to fill its faculty. "Some of our best candidates come from over- seas simply because many foreign countries seem to have a better overall plastics educa- tion system." Fulfilling the need for teachers, and upgrad- ing the plastics content of engineering curricu- la—two industry challenges that require one thing: time. "Education doesn't come quick—it's not a magic pill," Hoffman says. "It's not something where you're going to go to a course for a week or whatever and know everything. It takes time, and I think that's one of the biggest challenges for this industry. Everyone wants a quick fix for education—well, there isn't one." For plastics engineering students who are ready to begin transitioning to the workforce, NPE2018 has provided the perfect venue through which they can network, explore and begin shaping their futures as influential plas- tics professionals. Several students from Ferris State University and the University of Massa- chusetts Lowell shared their professional plans for the show with MoldMaking Technology edi- tor Karen Cornelissen on page 82. Robots and People, continued from page 4 96 botics is growing in leaps and bounds, jump- ing from 25 units in 2013 to 68 units in 2016. China's robot density currently ranks 23rd worldwide, but the government's goal is to push it into the world's top 10 most inten- sively automated nations by 2020. Robot density in the United States jumped to 189 in 2016, placing the country seventh in global rank. Going forward, robot sales in the United States will continue to increase through 2020, with forecast growth of at least 15 percent on average per year. I sus- pect that growth in automation will also correlate with in an increase in robot- fear-mongering headlines. Taiwan Plastics Equipment Manufacturers Gaining with Industry 4.0 By Tom Beard Plastics Technology Plastics equipment manufacturers from Tai- wan have made significant strides in growing their industry over the last few years. Accord- ing to TAITRA, a Taiwanese non-profit trade organization, last year the country produced more than $1.9 billion worth of equipment, and now sits as the world's sixth largest ex- porter of plastics and rubber processing equipment. Some $64 million of that went to the US, mainly in the form of injection and blow molding machines, extruders and plas- tics recycling equipment. Industry officials attribute much of the growth to broad embracement of the "Taiwan Smart Machinery 4.0" initiative. Prior to the program, they say, productivity of small small- er enterprises was stifled by time, costs and labor. "Now, infusing factories with affordable technology and automation serves as a global gateway for small to mid-sized factories to compete worldwide," says John Chen, vice president of the Taiwan Association of Ma- chinery (TAMI). At NPE2018 TAITRA and TAMI teamed up to present how access to affordable intelli- gent machinery is transforming industry in Taiwan and beyond. Included in the presenta- tion were four accomplished manufacturers including Foxnum Technology, a subsidiary of Foxconn and manufacturer of injection mold- ing machines; Huarong Group makers of ver- tical and horizontal injection molding ma - chines; Sun Lung Gear, manufacturer of gear- ing for a variety of plastics equipment; and Fu Chun Shin Machinery, a former lathe man- ufacturer that now produces injection mold- ing machines. These and other manufacturers can be seen in the Taiwan Pavilion in the South Hall. From left, Lisa Lynch; Samuel B. Ings, Orlando City Commissione; David Chien, Director General of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Miami; Bill Carteaux, President and CEO of Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS); Steve Petrakis, V.P. Industry Affairs, PLASTICS.

Articles in this issue

view archives of NPE - NPE2018 Show Daily - Friday