Penn State Erie receives $3.7 million gift in software

June 10, 2011

Erie, Pa. — Thanks to SIGMA Plastic Services Inc., the School of Engineering at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, has received state-of-the-art SIGMASOFT 3D Polymer System Simulation software, a gift valued at $3.7 million.

With this software, the campus has new technical capabilities for its soon-to-open Medical Plastics Center of Excellence and current Medical Plastics certificate program, two initiatives that address the emerging medical plastics market.

The U.S. market for medical plastics is growing at a rate of 5 percent to 10 percent annually and sales are projected to reach $6.55 billion in 2012.

"Thanks to SIGMA Plastic Services, our students and faculty members will be able to develop the next generation of medical devices. This is a great partnership between academia and industry that ultimately benefits our students," said Ralph Ford, director of the School of Engineering.

The $3.7 million gift supports Penn State Behrend's goal of raising $32 million during the University's current capital campaign, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. To date, the college has secured 81 percent of that goal.

Penn State Behrend's Medical Plastics Center of Excellence is an applied research and outreach center that supports companies in the development of new medical devices and packaging, technologies that could not exist without advanced plastics materials. SIGMASOFT software, designed for the molding of advanced elastomer, silicone and thermoplastic materials, supports these technologies.

Students enrolled in the Plastics Engineering Technology bachelor's degree program can pursue the Medical Plastics certificate. The 14-credit certificate program prepares graduates for careers in medical product development with courses in advanced materials, new product design, manufacturing, and FDA regulatory issues. Nationwide, this is the only medical plastics certificate or degree program offered at the undergraduate level.

Penn State Behrend alumnus and Erie native James Chiamardas played a key role in securing the gift.

"Students will acquire in-depth knowledge of SIGMA products and will be better prepared to put what they have learned into practice after graduation," said Chiamardas, president of TPStek. "This is the first gift of SIGMASOFT to a college or university in the United States. We're pleased to work with Penn State Behrend on this important initiative."

TPStek will provide technical support for the software, which is included in the value of the gift. Chiamardas earned his associate and bachelor's degrees in Plastics Engineering Technology.

Located outside of Chicago, SIGMA Plastics Services Inc. is part of SIGMA Engineering GmbH, headquartered in Aachen, Germany. SIGMA provides 3D Polymer System Simulation software and engineering solutions to companies throughout the world.

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Last Updated June 16, 2011