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Students, Faculty Attend Plastics Conference

Gathering in Milwaukee the Largest Event of Its Kind

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Sixty-three UMass Lowell plastics engineering students, along with 10 faculty members, participated in the 54th Society of Plastics Engineers annual conference held in early May in Milwaukee. The three-day event was the largest meeting of its kind, attracting plastics professionals from around the world for hundreds of technical presentations on the latest technologies in plastics materials, design and manufacturing.

“We attend such conferences to keep abreast with these developments and to connect with colleagues, alumni and friends,” says department Chair Robert Malloy. “They provide great networking opportunities for students seeking either full-time employment or internships.”

Other faculty members who attended included Profs. Nick Schott, Stephen Orroth, Stephen Driscoll, David Kazmer, Carol Barry, Daniel Schmidt, Stephen McCarthy and Stephen Johnston of Plastics Engineering, and Asst. Prof. Emmanuelle Reynaud of Mechanical Engineering.

“There were three undergraduates, 13 graduates, and numerous alumni and recent graduates who presented papers at the conference,” says Johnston, who organized the trip with Malloy. The students also served as ushers for the technical sessions.

“Additionally, faculty members chaired sessions and presented numerous papers,” says Johnston. Malloy delivered a keynote address on the importance of a strong relationship between industry and academia.

“Organizing and funding such a trip is always challenging, and we had to be creative in our efforts to minimize the cost for the students,” says Malloy. In addition to student car washes, funds for the Milwaukee trip were raised through donations by plastics alumna Debbie Hauser B.S. ’79, Prof. Amad Tayebi, George Kachen of the UML Nanomanufacturing Center, the Plastics Graduate Student Organization, the Society of Plastics Engineers Student Chapter, the Nanomanufacturing Club and the ACS Rubber Division Student Chapter.

On the way to the conference, the group stopped in Racine, Wis., to visit the headquarters of S.C. Johnson & Son (previously the Johnson Wax Co.). James Kimball B.S. ’82, Johnson Wax’s engineering director and a plastics engineering alumnus, arranged for a special tour of the facility, which is one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous buildings.

On the second day of the conference, the group also hosted a reception and dinner at a local restaurant for about 70 alumni from the Milwaukee area and those attending the conference. Diane Earl of the University Advancement office helped plan the event.

“In addition to our alumni, we had a number of special guests, including professors from other universities with plastics-degree programs in Pennsylvania and Michigan as well as Germany and Venezuela,” says Malloy.

During the get-together, undergraduate students Alison Deschino and Ryan Flaharty of the UML Chapter of the Society of Plastics Engineers presented Driscoll with a UMass Lowell tie and ruby tie pin in honor of his 40 years of service to the University.