PITTSBURG, Kan. — Students, faculty and staff are preparing to honor 50 years of plastics education at Pittsburg State University.

A reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the plastics engineering technology program is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday in the rotunda of the Kansas Technology Center on the PSU campus. Guest speakers will include Pittsburg Mayor Patrick O'Bryan and Howard Smith, vice president and provost at PSU.

The program boasts a 100% placement rate of students after graduation, university officials said in a statement announcing the reception. It's also a key component of the PSU polymer chemistry initiative, which provides students research-based opportunities at the Kansas Polymer Research Center.

University officials said faculty in the department are frequently called to speak at conferences and provide their expertise in plastics, while students have often been selected for internship opportunities at plastics-based companies across the nation.

"Working with industry is something we've done for a long time out here," professor Paul Herring said in a statement. "We work with industry leaders like Engel, Chevron-Phillips, Krauss-Maffei and many others. They donate a lot of equipment and materials to us because they want to employ graduates who understand and have hands-on experience with modern technology."

Alumni of the program who plan to attend the reception include Michael McGrew, currently the president of the Plastics Advisory Council, and Jordyn Showers, who works for Nike.

“I think our founders would be very, very proud,” said Rebeca Book, an associate professor in the department, in a statement. “The groundwork they laid, followed by visionary people who came here in the years after, helped propel this into a program that is recognized nationally."

Why plastics?

"Your computer, the phone in your pocket and even the toothbrush you use each morning aren’t possible without plastics and polymers," officials with the Pittsburg State University plastics engineering technology department say on the department's website. "Plastics and polymers literally shape the world around us, and plastics engineering graduates determine what that shape will be."

Emily Younker is the assistant metro editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.

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