Plastics professionals sharpen skills at Penn College

June 28, 2018

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. ­— The latest training initiative offered by the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology advanced the skills of plastics professionals representing a dozen companies, eight states and Canada.

The ninth annual National Hands-On Thin-Gauge/Roll-Fed Thermoforming Workshop offered a mix of classroom and lab sessions for the 33 participants, who learned from keynote instructor Mark Strachan, Penn College faculty and staff, and guest speakers.

Workshop evaluations prove that the training was time well-spent.

“The speakers/leaders are very knowledgeable and welcome questions about anything. I knew some, but this has given me more info in three days than I could ever hope to do on my own,” said Nicholas Berdyck, safety coordinator/quality control for Jamestown Plastics Inc. in Brocton, New York.

“They knew what they wanted to teach us and even gave us more. I’m leaving the class with more knowledge than I came here with,” said Clint Hicks, manufacturing engineer at Brentwood Industries Inc. in Reading.

“A great workshop put on by great people! Always learn something new,” added Matt Vandivier, applications development coordinator at Primex Plastics Corp. in Richmond, Indiana.

Strachan conducts classroom and hands-on training to thermoforming and sheet-extrusion companies worldwide. He serves as the senior technology director for First Quality Packaging Solutions in Riviera Beach, Florida, and is the former chairman and board member of the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division.

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

Gary E. McQuay, adjunct plastics instructor, and PIRC staff Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager of the Thermoforming Center of Excellence, and Brennan B. Wodrig, laboratory supervisor and project coordinator, contributed to the lab sessions. Student research assistants Noah L. Martin, of South Williamsport, and Wilson R. Michael, of Hughesville, both of whom are plastics and polymer engineering technology majors, provided support throughout the workshop.

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 one of six 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 800-367-9222.

Last Updated July 03, 2018