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5/22/2015 | 4 MINUTE READ

Planting The Seeds For A Future In Plastics

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  Winners of the Techmer PM sponsored Student Design Awards.    There have been several stories lately from a number of companies describing the ways in which its employees are engaging with the younger generation.

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Winners of the Techmer PM sponsored Student Design Awards. 


There have been several stories lately from a number of companies describing the ways in which its employees are engaging with the younger generation. It is great to read about, after all, it’s estimated that there are approximately 600,000 skilled manufacturing jobs that are currently unfilled in the U.S., and 2.7 million manufacturing workers are expected to retire in the next 10 years.


Here’s a rundown of some of the initiatives.




Techmer PM (Clinton, Tenn.) is the founding sponsor of the Royal Society of Arts United States (RSA-US) Student Design Awards (SDA). David Turner, vice president of sales & marketing for Techmer PM, told Plastics Technology that the company serves as a sponsor for the Student Design Awards as a way to support student designers, many of whom will be pioneers of the next generation in design. Past winners include Richard Clarke, global vice president of design at Nike.


“As a leader in materials design, Techmer PM supports both current and future designers to help enable them to bring their ideas to life,” he said. “This is part of our overall effort to support all levels of the supply chain to drive the plastics industry forward by helping to foster collaboration and innovation.”


The company recently recognized the recipients of six prominent design awards. Held April 25 at the Cooper Union for the Advancement for Science and Art in New York City, the 2015 program’s finalist submissions comprised 23 projects from a collective 36 students representing eight different universities.


The Bill Moggridge Award for Interdisciplinary Design is among the awards funded by Techmer PM, given this year to Keshev Ramaswami of the Pratt Institute for his project EXOL[L]NEA. The award, which is named in honor of the late William Grant “Bill” Moggridge (IDEO founder, design visionary, and former SDA winner), was introduced by Alex Moggridge, Bill’s son, and presented by Clarke of Nike.


Clarke gave the keynote speech and credited the award with “changing his life.” He encouraged student designers to “look for the companies that dare to dream with you.”


The RSA-US Student Design Awards, which seeks to inspire collaborative, multidisciplinary, design-led social change, will celebrate its 90th anniversary this year in the United Kingdom, while the U.S. program is in its third year. Both the U.S. and UK programs are open to undergraduate students currently enrolled in colleges and universities.




Amcor Rigid Plastics (Ann Arbor, Mich.) launched a neat program that connected students from around the world. Its 21st Century Global Cyber Pal Student Design Challenge project paired Manchester, MI students in Joanna Van Raden’s fourth-grade class with 42 Australian third- and fourth-graders in Greensborough, Victoria to develop packaging design concepts for juice bottles, food containers and fruit snack pouches.


During the project, Manchester and Greensborough students shared their packaging design ideas through an online educational platform called Edmodo. They also viewed different weekly project video lessons compiled by two Amcor Rigid Plastics’ senior industrial designers, Rick Rangler and Greg Hurley.


“These videos emphasize the critical roles technology and teamwork play in creating innovative packaging designs,” Rangler said. “It also represents a peek behind the packaging design curtain for students who are interested in learning more about this dynamic line of work.”


In April, Amcor Rigid Plastics awarded an $8,000 Amcor Community Program grant to provide four Luther C. Klager Elementary School classrooms with technology and furniture to enhance students’ 21st century STEM learning experience.


“We’re committed to supporting educational programs that share our passion for responsible packaging in Manchester and other local communities,” said Charlie Schwarze, an Amcor Rigid Plastics global sustainability manager and Amcor community program administrator. “We make community grants available so our co-workers can partner with local organizations to build better and stronger communities.”




Stratasys Ltd. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) joined SME’s Bright Minds as a program partner for three industry events to help develop and enhance future careers in additive manufacturing.


The Bright Minds program gives students the opportunity to learn about additive manufacturing through lectures, workshops, panel discussions and various hands-on challenges. Program participants will also be introduced to educational and career opportunities in additive manufacturing. 


“Stratasys is proud to be sponsoring Bright Minds for the fifth year in a row,” said Sig Behrens, general manager of global education at Stratasys. “This program provides young students the opportunity to learn about 3D printing and its many capabilities. We believe that 3D printing is changing the way things are made. We have a core focus on inspiring and recruiting as many young people as possible to learn the skills of the future that employers are looking for. Programs like this are key to building that pipeline of talent."


Bright Minds is an educational program created by Society of Manufacturing Engineers for high school and college students, educators, and administrators to support the future of manufacturing careers. Each Bright Minds event enhances the collaboration with manufacturing leaders and combines workshops with hands-on challenges to give participants the necessary tools to prepare them for future career challenges.


How is your company involved with recruiting the younger generation?