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Industry ties paying off for PSU’s Plastic Engineering Technology program

For Paul Herring, a professor in Pittsburg State’s Plastics Engineering Technologyprogram, Monday was delivery day, and much like an expectant father, he found himself nervously pacing back and forth as his new delivery entered the lab. That’s about where the comparison with a new father ends — Herring’s new “baby” is lime-green and weighs 16,000 pounds.
Industry ties paying off for PSU’s Plastic Engineering Technology program
Workers at Pittsburg State take possession of an injection molding machine from Engel. Pittsburg State Plastics Engineering Technology students will use the machine and its next generation controls in their coursework.

“It’s an injection molding machine,” said Herring. “It’s on loan from Engel (a global manufacturing company). It’s the fourth machine we’ve received from them. It has the next generation controls and a lot of new technology. We’re going to utilize it in our plastics technology courses.”

The Engel machine is one of many pieces of state-of-the-art equipment available to students within the university’s Plastics Engineering Technology program. In fact, in October the program will receive another new piece of equipment in form of a $200,000 machine from Krauss-Maffei manufacturing.

The constant flow of new equipment is the result of deep ties faculty members within PSU’s College of Technology have developed with industry.

“Working with industry is something we’ve done for a long time out here,” said Herring. “We work with industry leaders like Engel, Chevron-Phillips, Krauss-Maffei and many others. They donate a lot of equipment and materials to us because they want to employ graduates who understand and have hands-on experience with modern technology.”

Kevin Griner is one of the employers looking to hire experienced graduates. An alumnus of PSU’s Plastics Technology Program, Griner now owns a plastics injection molding facility in Kansas City.

“The instruction here is leading-edge,” said Griner. “The things the students learn (in Plastics Engineering Technology) are exactly the things that allow them to plug into a business. There’s going to be a learning curve but it’s not as steep as somebody coming from a different discipline.”

Advanced academics, combined with state-of-the-art technology and hands-on instruction, have resulted in a nearly 100 percent placement rate for graduates of the Plastics Engineering Technology program.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, materials engineers (which includes plastics) will be needed to design uses for new materials in traditional industries such as aerospace manufacturing, and in industries focused on new medical scientific products — areas which heavily utilize plastic. 

This type of career outlook is exactly what led Zach Geinger, a senior from St. Francis, Kan., to enroll at Pittsburg State.

“A friend of my father’s actually turned me on to the plastics program,” said Geinger. “I visited the school, saw the labs and really connected with the professors. We kind of joked that it has a 100 percent job placement, but it’s true. I knew I’d be able to get a job, which was a big reason why I chose plastics.”

Geinger said the size of the plastics program and the ability to have hands-on experience reaffirmed that he’d made the right choice.

“It’s small enough so that you get individual treatment,” said Geinger. “But it’s big enough so that you get new machines like this (Engel machine) to work on. It’s been fun growing as a student here because it’s so conducive to learning. It’s been a great choice.”

To learn more about the Plastics Engineering Technology program at Pittsburg State visit:http://www.pittstate.edu/plastics.

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