PLET students explore Denmark, Sweden

Guest Post by Molly Joyce, senior Plastics Engineering Technology major

No matter how vivid the photos or descriptive the lecture, there’s nothing quite like seeing and experiencing another country in person. And, in today’s increasingly global business climate, it’s vital that students be versed in the culture and business practices of international partners. There is much to be learned from seeing how others do it. That’s why, every year, students in the Plastics Engineering Technology (PLET) program have the opportunity to travel overseas to visit plastics companies and universities and attend a plastics trade show, too.

On Thursday, Oct. 18th, a group of PLET majors embarked on an 11-day trip to Denmark and Sweden. We asked student Molly Joyce to keep a travel log and tell us about the trip. Here is her report from the first three days:

Day 1 Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Today was a travel day. Our first leg was driving to the Toronto International airport. We then departed from Toronto, Canada, and flew to Copenhagen, Denmark, with a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland. We enjoyed sleep and movies on the plane and played cards during our layovers.

Day 2 Friday, October 19th, 2018

Today was our first day in Copenhagen. We arrived around noon and after a quick trip from the train station to the hostel, we were then free to explore the city. Since we are a smaller group of seven students, we had our first meal together in a little Danish cafe. After, we enjoyed a canal tour of the city. Then we visited Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park in the city, which was decorated for Halloween.

Day 3 Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Today was a free day for the students, so after breakfast we broke off into smaller groups to explore the city. Both groups were able to witness the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace.

Next, we ventured into Rosenborg Palace where we saw how the royals back in the 1500’s lived and Christiansborg Palace where we saw the ruins, the kitchen, and the royal stables. We also visited The Little Mermaid statue that was gift from a Danish Icelandic sculptor to Denmark.

One group rented bikes to be able to tour more of the city. That group ventured into Christiana. Another group climbed the Round Tower for an aerial city view and visited Kastellet.

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Rosenborg Castle

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Christian IV’s Crown from 1596

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Erik Steinnmetz, Molly Joyce, and Dalton Scott at the Little Mermaid statue

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Erik Steinmetz, Dalton Scott, and Molly Joyce at the Gustavskirken Church

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Chris Vrana, Curtis Boggs, Collin Gilarno, and Scott Sada on a self-guided bike tour in Copenhagen.

NEXT: The PLET students will spend a few days in various Denmark cities and tour the LEGO factory before moving onto Gotenburg where they will attend the ScanPack Trade Show. After that, they are off to Stockholm, Sweden, where they will visit SSAB Steel.  We’ll post updates from Molly as they arrive.

When You Give an Engineer a Problem….

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Plastics recycling - Valerie Zivkovich and Olivia Dubin - horiz.jpg

Valerie Zivkovich and Olivia Dubin, seniors majoring in Plastics Engineering Technology.

Engineers are problem solvers by nature. So it should come as no surprise that when faced with a recycling conundrum, students in Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering saw an opportunity.

The quandary

China, which is the largest consumer of recycled material from the United States, has significantly reduced the amount and types of material it will accept and introduced strong restrictions on contamination, i.e. trash mixed in with recyclables.

This has forced a wave of changes in the U.S. recycling industry.

“Waste Management has had to adjust the way it recycles materials to ensure those materials pass through numerous quality checks and has also found it necessary to pass on increased costs to customers, including Behrend,” said Randall Geering, senior director of business and operations. “The impact of these changes is being felt everywhere, not just on our campus.”

The bottom line: Recycling is becoming harder and more expensive for consumers and businesses to do and unprofitable for material recovery facilities.

It is not hard to see how this could lead to complete breakdown in the recycling system.

Seeds of change

Recycling and the waste generated by landscaping containers is what led Valerie Zivkovich, a senior from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, to the Plastics Engineering Technology (PLET) program at Penn State Behrend.

“I worked at a vegetable farm in high school, and we were constantly throwing out plastic containers that the plants were in,” Zivkovich said. “We couldn’t reuse them because of potential contaminants in the soil, and I understood that, but I thought there had to be a better way. I wanted to develop a better plastic for agricultural use.”

Zivkovich and her capstone project partner, fellow PLET senior Olivia Dubin, had heard the uproar from the Penn State Behrend community about the prospect of no longer recycling and realized the campus could recycle its own plastic bottles.

At a campus-wide meeting with Waste Management officials, Zivkovich and Dubin presented a proposal to collect, clean, and pelletize bottles into raw material that could then be used to create new products.

“Basically, we’ll collect plastic bottles—primarily PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and PP (polypropylene) such as pop bottles, Starbucks cups, etc.—then grind them up into tiny pellets and use or resell them to a vendor,” Zivkovich said.

They worked on their initial plan with Jason Williams, assistant teaching professor of engineering.

“I think this could work because we already have most of the equipment and skills in our plastics department,” Williams said. “We are unique in that we have both a plastics factory and a research facility. This combination of resources makes Behrend a great place to test something like this.”

Waste Management agreed and awarded the students a $3,000 Think Green grant to help get the program going.

“The recycling industry is changing, and it’s going to take projects like this one to help identify different markets for material,” said Erika Deyarmin-Young, public affairs coordinator at Waste Management.

Williams is excited about the possibilities.

“I think this initiative is a valuable teaching tool and a demonstration of how engineers can make things better,” he said. “It will also give us tools we can use to study ways to handle post-consumer waste. I think there is a lot of research opportunity in developing automatic sorting technology and material handling of plastics.”

“As PLET majors, we learn about the impact and importance of recycling,” Dubin said. “We are excited to have come up with a solution that our whole campus could be involved in.”

It takes a village

The first step, Zivkovich said, is spreading the word about what can and can’t be recycled and the importance of rinsing containers before tossing them into the recycling bin.

“There definitely needs to be a campus-wide education campaign,” she said. “We need to teach others how to recycle properly with information sessions, posters, and clear signage on the collection containers.”

“We want students to get involved with every aspect of the recycling process,” Dubin said.

Other priorities include finding more funding and securing workspace. “We need a new grinder and that’s $45,000,” Zivkovich said. “We’re applying for grants to find that funding. As for lab space, we think the Merwin building in Knowledge Park would be ideal.”

Another important part of the equation: volunteers from all four schools.

“We don’t want this to be a project only for PLET or engineering students,” Williams said. “This is an opportunity for students across the college to get involved with these recycling efforts.”

Zivkovich plans to reach out to the college’s sustainability program and Greener Behrend club for help securing volunteers to sort and collect plastics.

“Whatever major you are in, you’ll deal with recycling somewhere—at home, at work, in your community,” Zivkovich said. “This effects all of us whether you work in the industry or not.”

Standout Seniors: Meet Gina Demeo

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Gina Demeo:

Gina DeMeo

Major: Industrial Engineering

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I received the PNC Leadership Scholarship

On choosing her major: Industrial engineering is about making things work efficiently, which is something I knew I was good at.

Campus involvement: I am president of the National Organization of Business and Engineering (NOBE) club, treasurer of the Materials and Manufacturing group, and an Engineering Ambassador. I’m also a member of the student chapter of the Institute of Industrial Systems Engineers and vice president of member development for Alpha Sigma Tau.

On taking charge: It is easy for me to take the lead on a project or planning an event. If no one seems to be stepping up to do so, I will happily put in 110 percent to get it off the ground.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: One of the best parts of my college experience has been being a member of a sorority. When you’re a woman in a male-dominated field, you need a strong girlfriend group. I found that within my sorority.

The good life, defined: To me, living a good life means being happy and kind to everyone. During my time at Behrend, I have been able to find a balance within myself to be able to do just that.

 

Following her graduation in May, Gina plans to find a job in the field of industrial engineering.

Standout Seniors: Meet Will Aldridge

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today we’d like you to meet Will Aldridge:

Will Aldridge

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

On choosing Penn State Behrend: I chose Behrend because of its highly-rated mechanical engineering program and the ability to have one-on-one interactions with professors.

On choosing his major: Both of my parents are engineers so it’s really the only thing that I’ve ever known. I actually graduated from University Park as a petroleum engineer in 2014. I worked in the petroleum industry for two years as a field engineer with Halliburton Energy Services, one of the largest oilfield service companies. I traveled throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio working on Marcellus and Utica shale gas wells for customers like Royal Dutch Shell, CONSOL Energy, and EQT. After two years, my facility in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was closed as a result of downturn in oil prices that occurred between 2014 and 2016. I was given the opportunity to transfer to a facility in Ohio but decided to turn down the transfer to return to school to become a mechanical engineer in order to open up a broader range of career opportunities.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I was a member of a team selected to work on a senior design project for NASA. I’m also proud to have been invited to compete in the 2018 Collegiate Innovation Showcase.

Campus involvement: I serve as the president for the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and I will be competing in the Erie Collegiate Innovation Showcase. I’m also a member of Dr. Shraddha Sangelkar’s undergraduate research team and will be participating in the 2018 Capstone Design Conference in Rochester, New York.

A willing coach: I like helping people reach their goals by encouraging them to go outside of their comfort zone and by sharing my experiences.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: Britney Spears follows me on Twitter, I’m an avid windsurfer, and I’ve attended four different Penn State campuses.

What he’s passionate about: Music and photography. I can’t wait to buy a drone.

Advice for new students: Learn to prioritize your time and develop good study habits. Take advantage of the opportunities that you have being a Penn State student by attending the Behrend and University Park career fairs even when you are a first year student. Companies love getting their hands on young talent and developing your skills through multiple internships.

After his graduation in May, Will plans to pursue a career in engineering design, product development, or industrial design.

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Elizabeth Mamros

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Elizabeth Mamros:

liz mamros (14)

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Minor(s): Mathematics and Spanish

Hometown: McMurray, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I have received the PNC Leadership Scholarship, the Academic Excellence Scholarship, and the Penn State Behrend Chancellor’s Scholarship.

On choosing Penn State Behrend: I had no idea where I wanted to go to college, so I applied to thirteen schools. I was accepted at University Park but had been in Erie doing an overnight at Gannon when I decided to visit Behrend. I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous landscape on campus, the faculty-to-student ratio, the abundant opportunities, and the school’s reputation. Receiving an acceptance letter into the Schreyer Honors College sealed the deal.

On choosing her major: If you look around the room you are in right now, engineers were likely somehow involved in the creation of everything you see. Engineers are the change-makers of the world. I chose mechanical engineering because I am an extremely curious person who enjoys problem-solving and using innovative thinking to make a difference. I also knew that my dream job would involve working on medical devices or designing amusement park rides, which both fall heavily into the mechanical side of engineering.

Campus involvement: I am the president of Reality Check and the vice president of Behrend Engineering Ambassadors. I serve as a student representative on the Student Activity Fee and Student Facility Fee committees. I am a Resident Assistant and was previously the webmaster for the Lion Entertainment Board and a staff writer for the Behrend Beacon. I am also a member of Tau Beta Pi, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Equestrian Club.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I spent a summer abroad in southern Spain (Ronda) taking classes and being fully immersed in the Spanish culture. I lived with a family who only spoke Spanish and had my first experience traveling alone. To say it put me outside of my comfort zone would be an understatement, but I am so incredibly grateful that I had the courage to pursue this dream come true.

Committed to serving others: I am a firm believer in paying it forward and using my skills and talents to help others through community service. I am also extremely passionate about being an inspiration/spark/beacon of hope for others so that they, too, will follow their dreams.

Who inspires her: Dr. Seuss has always been an inspiration to me. As a quote lover, I am blown away by the depth and truth in everything this man has ever said or written.

Advice for new students: Get comfortable being uncomfortable! Join clubs that offer things that you have always wanted to try. Sign up for school trips and conferences that will take you to new places. Plan ahead so you can study abroad and be immersed in another culture. Be innovative, and leave your mark on this campus. Let your college experiences be the springboard that helps you go further in life.

After her graduation in December 2018, Elizabeth plans to pursue a graduate engineering degree and work for an international engineering firm.

Standout Seniors: Meet Alyssa Andrzejewski

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Alyssa Andrzejewski:

Alyssa Andrzejewski

Major: Industrial Engineering

Minor: Operations and Supply Chain Management

Certificate: ERP with SAP

Hometown: Sardinia, New York

On choosing her major: I have always loved math and problem solving. My father is an engineer and my parents definitely encouraged me to pursue a career in the STEM fields. After learning about industrial engineering, I knew it was the right fit for me because I was interested in the process improvement and problem-solving aspects involved in IE.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: When I received my dream job offer (see end note) and accepted it. I felt that all my hard work, time, and networking at Behrend had paid off because it helped me achieve my dream.

Campus involvement: I am a Resident Assistant, and a member of the Society of Women Engineers, the Materials and Manufacturing Group, and the Ski and Ride club.

Snow enthusiast: I love to ski. I actually worked as ski instructor at Peek n’ Peak ski resort in nearby Clymer, New York, this past winter.

Live music lover: One of my favorite things to do is go to concerts. My sister is my favorite live music buddy. I have lost track of how many bands we’ve seen together, most of them are alternative/rock groups.

What inspires her: My family and my future. My parents and my sister are amazing and successful people who have always encouraged me to do my best and to do whatever makes me happy.

Advice for new students: Step out of your comfort zone! Behrend is a place that is full of opportunities and friendly people.

Following her graduation in May, Alyssa will begin working in the Quality Engineering Development Program at John Deere in the company’s Agriculture and Turf Division in Iowa.

 

 

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Angela DeAngelo

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Angela DeAngelo

angela Deangelo

Major: Plastics Engineering Technology

Hometown: Ridgway, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: Council of Fellows Leadership Scholarship, the Irvin and Ethel Kochel Trustee Scholarship, and the Buick Achievers Scholarship (General Motors Foundation).

On choosing Penn State Behrend: I have wanted to go to Penn State since I was a little girl. Behrend’s School of Engineering has a great reputation, and once I heard about the Plastics Engineering Technology (PLET) program, I was set. I love the class sizes and the fact that you can really get to know your professors and your peers.

On choosing her major: I love working with my hands, learning how things work from the inside out, problem solving, and being creative, so the PLET seemed like a great fit.

Paying it forward: As a member of the Behrend Engineering Ambassadors, I have been working with the Engineering K-12 Outreach Center for three years. It was an amazing experience to work with local youth and get them excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. It was really rewarding, and fun, to have a positive influence and help kids learn and engage with STEM.

Campus involvement: I am president of the Plastics Engineering Technology Class of 2018, special events chair for the Behrend Engineering Ambassadors, and a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers. Formerly, I was the service chair for Lion Ambassadors.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: After I graduate, I want to buy a 1970 Ford Bronco and restore it.

Advice for new students: Do not be afraid to ask for help. Go out of your comfort zone and get involved.

After her graduation in May, Angela will be working at Truck-Lite in Falconer, New York, as the product design engineer supporting the Road-Ready Telematics Team.

Standout Seniors: Meet Maura Franks

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Maura Franks:

Maura Franks

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Gibsonia, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I received the LORD Corporation Scholarship twice.

On choosing her major: When I was growing up, I actually wanted to be a geologist. But later, I saw how much my older sister enjoyed engineering and decided to look into different types of engineering. I chose mechanical engineering because of its diversity in jobs and opportunities, and because I wanted to choose a career path that would continuously challenge me.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Being able to maintain a high GPA while working as an intern at LORD Corporation, taking classes, and teaching a computer lab for first-year students.

Campus involvement: I am currently the vice president of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, and I was a Bible study leader during my first and second years at Behrend.

Free-time fun: Some of my interests/hobbies include playing the alto saxophone, fishing, photography, and riding all-terrain vehicles.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: In my spare time, I help out at a dairy farm.

On her faith: I’m passionate about my faith in God. It has helped me learn more about myself, appreciate all the amazing people in my life, and grow as a person.

Who inspires her: My dad inspires me. He is the most hard working and intelligent man I have ever known.

Advice for new students: Do an internship in your field of study. I’ve learned a lot about engineering by getting hands-on experience and working with professional engineers.

Following her graduation in May, Maura hopes to begin her engineering career in Erie.

 

Game on: Students Make Connections at Conference

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

GDC 20182

For the past five years, students enrolled in GAME 495: Senior Internship have had the opportunity to attend the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. Eight Penn State Behrend students and two faculty members recently returned from this year’s conference which was held in late March.

GDC is the world’s largest professional game industry event. There, students join game designers, programmers, artists, producers, and business professionals for five days of education, inspiration, and networking in the global game development community.

“Students are exposed to the game industry from the inside, get a chance to talk to professionals, and make connections that are invaluable as they set course for their own career in the game industry,” said Dr. Heather Lum, assistant professor of psychology.

Students who attended the GDC were not only from the School of Engineering, but also Psychology majors from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences who are in the human factors track, which focuses on user interface and user experience.

Lum was a GDC trip leader along with Dr. Richard Zhao, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering.

“The students who went to the GDC are enrolled in the interdisciplinary minor in Game Development,” Zhao said. “While we can teach students the technical and artistic skills needed to design and develop games in other classes, GAME 495 provides students the opportunity to showcase their product and interact with the world in a way that a traditional classroom is never able to.”

One good example: face-to-face networking with industry insiders at the GDC.

“I met a user experience analyst, which is my chosen field, from my favorite gaming company, Blizzard,” said Tiffany Eichler, a senior Psychology major. “We have been e-mailing since the conference and it has been so enlightening. I have learned a lot about the industry and why psychology has a place in it. He shared with me the best time to apply for an internship with Blizzard, so I am biding my time until I can get my name in there.”

“Students who have attended GDC in previous years have gotten internships and job offers from companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and others,” Lum said.

Prior to the trip, students in GAME 495 write and practice their elevator pitches, create resumes and business cards, and learn how to get noticed and have a meaningful conversation with professional contacts, including alumni.

“We had a chance to meet up with some Penn State Behrend graduates who are now working on the west coast,” Lum said.

Students who attended the GDC trip included, Computer Science majors: Cole Trexler, Matt Benkart, Jordon Torunian, and Morgan Farabaugh; Software Engineering majors, Frank Corso, Joe Craig, and Richard Shultz; and Psychology majors, Tiffany Eichler and Donald Fromknecht.

GDC 20181

Standout Seniors: Meet Zachery Smith

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Zachery Smith:

zachery smith

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I received the Penn State Provost Award and the Chancellor’s Award

On choosing Behrend: I started my college career at Penn State New Kensington, which was in my hometown. After experiencing that, I realized that having small class sizes and personal interactions with professors created a more ideal learning environment and figured Behrend would be the best place to finish my degree.

On choosing his major: I excelled at physics and mathematics in high school. I also had a passion for working on cars and other mechanical systems. I was constantly tearing things apart to understand how they worked.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: My senior design team and I drove to the NASA Space Marshall Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to visit our industry sponsor and see some of the equipment that we will be working with for our capstone project.

Definition of a good life: Sitting on a beach listening to Jimmy Buffet and drinking margaritas.

Advice for new students: Don’t sell yourself short; hard work goes a long way.

Following his graduation in May, Zachery has accepted a position as an engine development and validation engineer at General Motors Global Propulsion Systems.