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Paul Herring, professor at engineering technology, and Katie George, director of development for the college of technology, stand at the podium to present awards to contributors and partners of the engineering technology department during the 50th anniversary celebration of plastics education at PSU Tuesday, Sept. 17. Collaborations with other industries have long been a vital part of the program’s success. Lesly Bocanegra

Plastics Engineering Technology program celebrates 50 years

Some remember big events that happened 50 years ago, such as the Apollo 10 mission, or the Beatles topping the charts, but there were also big events happening at PSU. 

On Sept. 17, 2019, the Plastics Engineering Technology (PET) program celebrated 50 years at Pittsburg State University. The event was hosted in the Kansas Technology Center (KTC) Rotunda from 3 to 3:30 p.m. The event showcased accomplishments that the program had over their 50 year existence. There were multiple speakers that highlighted the journey of the program, and awards given to recognize individuals who have made an impact on the program.  

“It is absolutely astounding if you consider the number of people that the department has impacted over these 50 years,” said Patrick O’Bryan, mayor of Pittsburg.  

The PET program offers several degrees for students seeking to go into the field. The plastics department expands on an emphasis of technical knowledge and real-world application.  

“They’re not only educated students, but they are learning the economic development and helping to create jobs.” said Blake Benson, president of Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce.  

Students that choose to go into the program will have the opportunity to learn how machines work and objects are put together. They receive education in mechanical engineering, chemistry, and math.  

“We have the expertise to be forward looking and innovative right here on our campus,” Benson said.  

  Pitt Plastics is one organization that is geared toward plastic engineering technology majors. In the organization, they prepare students for the work they could be doing in their future careers.  

“It’s one of those programs when people think of Pittsburg State University, they think about what it can do,” said Howard Smith, PSU provost. “It touches our lives in so many ways. Anything from packaging and safety to electronics and cables.”  

The plastics program has grown since it first was established in 1969. The department has 94 plastic majors, and currently has a 100-percent placement rate after graduation. The program also keeps up with developments in polymer and plastics technology. 

“It’s been a program that has continually been cutting edge,” Smith said.  

During past years, gifts of approximately $60,000 in scholarships have been awarded to students in plastics.  Alumni from the program have also helped the program’s expansion, and their success stories were highlights to the celebration of the PET program.  

“The excitement is what’s going to happen in the next 50 years” O’Bryan said.  

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