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K 2007, the largest plastics trade show in the world, was held this past October at the Messe Exhibition Center in DÜsseldorf, Germany. The event takes place every three years and is called K for Kunststoffe, the German word for “plastics.”
This year’s show attracted nearly 245,000 plastics industry professionals from Europe, Asia and the Americas and featured about 3,100 companies in 17 huge exhibit halls. On hand to promote UMass Lowell’s Plastics Engineering Department were Profs. Stephen Orroth, Nick Schott and department Chair Robert Malloy.
“The trip was a great success,” says Malloy. UML’s exhibit, which was part of the state of Massachusetts pavilion, represented the only American university at the show, the rest being from Germany. “The European branch of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment, directed by Bruce Greenwood, happens to be located in Germany and they had a strong presence at the show,” he says. “They were happy to have us co-exhibit because a strong university presence is important for companies that may consider locating in Massachusetts.”
Trade shows such as K 2007 enable faculty members to keep abreast of the latest technological developments in the field. “K 2007 is global conference and it gives us an opportunity to see technologies developed in other countries,” says Malloy. “Attending it also gives us a chance to promote our educational and research programs to a global audience.”
For example, the faculty was able to market the department’s On-line Graduate Certificate Program in Plastics Engineering Fundamentals. “The on-line nature of this program opens it up to students from around the world,” says Malloy. The next round of classes is slated to begin Jan. 22.
“We also promoted our continuing studies seminar series, which is routinely attended by foreign students,” he says, “as well as our research capabilities in the areas of plastics materials, plastics design and manufacture, biopolymers and, in broader University context, nanomanufacturing technology.”
The faculty reported very significant activity at the UML booth during the show. “We had many meetings with companies and organizations from counties like India, Hungary, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, which expressed keen interest in our programs,” he says. For instance, engineers from a Mexican company interested in developing plastics from agricultural feedstocks will visit UMass Lowell this year.
Malloy says interest from India in the department’s on-line program was extraordinary. “Steve [Orroth] and I met with many high-level Indian professionals, including Arvind Metha, who is president of Plastindia Foundation, the organization that oversees all of the plastics industry activities in the country,” he says. In December, the organization will host Plastivision India 2007 in Mumbai, and Prof. Ramaswamy Nagarajan of the Plastics Engineering Department will attend this international exhibition and seminar to represent the University.
“We were told that the UMass Lowell Plastics Engineering Department has a ‘great’ reputation in India,” says Malloy. “They say that many B.S. engineering students there ‘dream’ of getting a graduate degree from the University.”