Prof. Emeritus Nick Schott to be Inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame

Prof. Emeritus Nick Schott Image by Edwin L. Aguirre
Professor Emeritus Nick Schott

By Edwin L. Aguirre

Professor Emeritus Nick Schott is one of 17 individuals who will be inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame on May 5, before the NPE 2024 The Plastics Show begins in Orlando, Florida. The award honors people from around the world who, through their innovative leadership and scholarly research, have introduced efficient solutions to society’s needs using plastics.
Schott accomplished so much at UMass Lowell, but two initiatives really stand out, says his former colleague, Professor Emeritus Robert Malloy
“First, Nick really is one of the reasons the university’s plastics engineering program gained an international reputation,” says Malloy, who succeeded Schott as department chair in 2002 after 18 years. “Under Nick’s leadership, it evolved from a regional program to an internationally recognized program.”
Plastics engineering professors
Standing from left to right: Profs. Nick Schott, Aldo Crugnola, Steve Orroth and Steve Driscoll. Seated: Prof. Rudy Deanin.
As a multilingual scholar, Schott established international exchange programs for faculty and students, according to Malloy. He also visited and developed relationships with universities and research institutes in India, China, Taiwan, Japan, the U.K., Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Venezuela. At one point, the department had students enrolled in the plastics program from at least 12 different countries.
“Second, Nick also coordinated an effort with Dean Aldo Crugnola to have the Plastics Engineering Department be the first undergraduate plastics engineering program in the United States to be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Programs,” Malloy says. “ABET granted the accreditation in 1977.”
Schott specialized in teaching and research in the areas of plastics processing, process control, product design and mold design, which contributed significantly to the advancement of plastics education and technology. As a compassionate leader, he cultivated a welcoming and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff.
“When I joined the plastics faculty in 1996, I was the first woman to be hired,” says Prof. Carol Barry, the current department chair. “Nick and [Prof.] Steve Orroth were really nice to me. Nick was the chair at that time, and he ran a very tight but very welcoming department, and I didn’t hit too many obstacles as a woman. Nick really made a big difference.”
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Schott was a refugee in Germany from 1947 until 1952, when his family moved to the United States. He earned an associate degree in chemistry from City College of San Francisco in 1962, a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1965, and master’s and doctorate degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Arizona in 1968 and 1971, respectively.
Schott taught courses to thousands of undergraduate students and advised more than 100 graduate students during his 40 years at UMass Lowell before retiring in 2010. That year, he established an endowed scholarship fund to help support plastics engineering students pursuing bachelor’s degrees.
A member of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) since 1971, Schott was named an SPE Fellow in 1986 and is a founding member of the SPE Product Design and Development Division. He has authored or co-authored numerous papers and books about plastics engineering and was active in numerous professional organizations, including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society and the American Society for Engineering Education.
With his induction into the Plastics Hall of Fame, Schott will join other UMass Lowell Plastics Engineering faculty who have been honored this way: Robert Malloy (inducted in 2012) and the late Profs. Russell Ehlers (1982) and Rudolph Deanin (2000). 
“This award for Nick is well-deserved, and frankly it’s long overdue for all the accomplishments that he has made,” says Prof. James Sherwood, the dean of the Francis College of Engineering who has known Schott since joining the faculty in 1993.
One of Schott’s former students is Suresh Shah, who earned master’s and doctorate degrees in plastics engineering from UMass Lowell in 1982 and 1985, respectively, and is now a retired Delphi Technologies senior technical fellow after a successful 30-year career in the automotive industry. Shah, who holds 32 patents and other intellectual properties, was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 2021.
“As my Ph.D. thesis advisor, Dr. Schott was very helpful in providing guidance, not only as a professor but also as a friend,” Shah says. “I am very grateful to him for encouraging me to accept the job offer at General Motors out of three offers, which changed my life. Congratulations to Dr. Schott for his induction into this year’s Plastics Hall of Fame.”