Plastics professionals converge on Penn College campus

August 31, 2017

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. ­— Plastics professionals representing 13 companies, nine states and Canada attended the Eighth Annual National Hands-On Thin-Gauge/Roll-Fed Thermoforming Workshop at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center.

Mark Strachan, senior technology director for First Quality Packaging Solutions in West Palm Beach, Florida, and former chairman of the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division, served as keynote instructor for the 24 participants. Penn College faculty and staff assisted Strachan throughout the three-day workshop.

Kirk M. Cantor, professor of plastics and polymer technology, presented “Materials & Extrusion,” and Joseph E. LeBlanc, assistant professor of physics, led a session on “Heating the Sheet and Cooling the Part.”

PIRC staff Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager of the Thermoforming Center of Excellence; Gary E. McQuay, engineering manager; and Brennan B. Wodrig, laboratory supervisor and project coordinator, contributed to the lab sessions along with student research assistants Casey A. Curtin, of Berwick, and Jeremy M. Dorward, of Muncy. Curtin and Dorward are plastics and polymer engineering technology majors.

Participants received hands-on experience with the college’s new thin-gauge thermoforming machine, purchased with grant funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Brentwood Industries, the SPE Thermoforming Division and the SPE Foundation. Solar Products, Tray-Pak Corp. and Tooling Technology donated parts for the machine.

Attendees’ testimonials bestowed praise on the workshop instructors and facilities.

“Very satisfied with all aspects of this workshop, and it has provided our company with a thorough understanding of cutting-edge thermoforming technology and practices at a great value,” said Adam Gagne, mechanical/manufacturing engineer for Allurion Technologies in Natick, Massachusetts.

“Great workshop with fun along the way. Instructors are very knowledgeable. Everyone new to thermoforming should attend this workshop,” said Anthony Marable, supervisor for Plastic Ingenuity in Oxford, North Carolina.

“Workshop was extremely helpful at learning some of the idiosyncrasies of the fundamentals of thermoforming,” said Robert De La Rosa, project engineer for Dart Container in Leola.

“I found it very useful, especially being new to thermoforming,” said Lester Yarnell, novelty/thermoforming/spoolmaking manager at CSS Industries in Berwick.

The PIRC is a globally recognized leader in plastics education and training. It supports industry growth by providing companies with customized training and access to resources available through Penn College’s academic programs and facilities. To learn more, call 570-321-5533 or visit

Penn College is among just a handful of institutions nationwide offering plastics degrees that are accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET. For more about the plastics majors and other programs offered by the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520 or visit

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, visit, email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Last Updated August 31, 2017