“Students in the club get to use 3-D printers, equipment in the Polymer Processing Lab and there are also roles for non-engineering students to help create videos and promotional materials of projects.”
Kettering University’s Plastics Engineering Club has not only become one of the most popular student clubs on campus -- it has helped students engage in meaningful projects outside of the classroom and in some cases, attain scholarships through membership in the Detroit chapter of the Society for Plastics Engineers.
The club, which began in 2012 with approximately 10 students routinely had 35-55 students at weekly meetings this term and had more than 100 sign up as official members. The project-based nature of the club is a big draw to students majoring in a wide range of programs.
“Students in the club get to use 3-D printers, equipment in the Polymer Processing Lab and there are also roles for non-engineering students to help create videos and promotional materials of projects,” said Mark Richardson, Industrial Engineering faculty member and the club’s advisor. “That’s the biggest attraction -- these students are engineers, and engineers like to do stuff. This club gives them the opportunity to be hands-on.”
This term, projects included using a thermoformer to turn recycled water bottles into plastic cups and plates branded with the Kettering University bulldog logo. Students also created injection molded bulldog keychains and used 3-D printers to create different objects at events, including the Discover Kettering open house for prospective students and families. Other students in the club worked on promotional materials, including a video, for the club.
“Kettering is a hands-on university, and this is a hands-on club,” said Dillon Frost, the club’s president and a Chemical Engineering major who said his interest in plastics grew during his co-op placement with Asahi Kasei Plastics North America.
Beyond the opportunity to improve their skills in real projects outside of their regular coursework, students in the club are also encouraged to sign up as student members of the Detroit Section of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE).
In 2015 SPE donated over $38,000 to Kettering in support of the Polymer Processing Lab and in the 2015-16 academic year, SPE awarded $21,000 in scholarships. Eleven Kettering students -- Paul Kizer, Ryan Webster, Sean Catt, Tyler Bylsma, Diana Ervin, Dillon Frost, Jake Stevens, Troy DeLong, Calloway Salmon, Charles Mancino and Demetri Blackwood -- received SPE scholarships.
Shane Alexander, a senior Mechanical Engineering major, was this year’s Delta Polymers Achievement Award recipient from SPE Detroit for his commitment to academic excellence and active involvement in the Kettering SPE Student Section.
This year SPE Detroit also established a scholarship honoring former Kettering professor Reg Bell for his “50+ years as a dedicated Kettering University faculty member best known for taking an active and caring role in the lives of innumerable students.” this year. The Dr. Professor Reginald Bell Outstanding Student Award will present one student member of SPE Detroit with a $5,000 scholarship annually.
“There is a growing industry need for plastics engineers, and the club gives students a way to add to their technical skills while also making valuable networking connections with industry professionals and, in some cases, even get scholarships to help pay for their education,” Richardson said.