NPE BOOTH OFFERING `REAL' ENCOUNTERS

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MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. — AlliedSignal will have its spotlight on Dilbert at NPE.

Not the real Dilbert, the comic page's everyman hero to unappreciated engineers. But real scientists and design engineers will be in the forefront at the booths sponsored by the Morris Township-based engineering resin supplier.

Scientists and design engineers will man the ``PIT,'' or Plastics Institute of Technology (Booth E10901), one of two AlliedSignal exhibits at Chicago's McCormick Place. The PIT will feature a series of 30-minute daily seminars on topics such as blow molding Capron nylon, vibration welding with AlliedSignal resins and gas-assist injection molding.

The company's main exhibit (Booth S2523) will include computer workstations that can access product presentations, computer-aided-design drawings, design analysis software, and other tools.

``We are doing our best to keep the real people in front of our customers,'' said Mark Minnichelli, manager of design engineering for the Modulus Design Group.

Minnichelli joined AlliedSignal late last year, coming from GE Plastics.

``We would rather have a technical guy stumble a few times than to have an actor give a false image of who we are,'' Minnichelli said.

In recent months AlliedSignal engineers have had sessions with professional presenters to improve their public speaking. They even have taken time to prepare for difficult questions, including any that may be posed by competitors.

``We will try our best to be ready for aggressive questions and answers,'' Minnichelli said.

Planning for the PIT sessions started in fall 1996.

Some material suppliers have downsized or even dropped NPE exhibition plans in recent years, choosing instead to spend money on trade shows with a stronger end-market focus.

Other companies use the tried-and-true strategy of loading up a booth with marketing managers and sample parts. But Robert Gillette, vice president and general manager of AlliedSignal Plastics, said the PIT is an attempt to do something unique at NPE.

``It's always hard to judge'' the value of exhibiting at trade shows, he said. ``I personally have always been skeptical.''

AlliedSignal claims to be the only firm featuring an NPE booth strictly devoted to technical seminars, said Mike Bogar, head of sales and marketing. The firm checked with the Society of Plastics Engineers, which sponsors an extensive NPE conference program, before going ahead with the plan.

Attendees interested in attending a PIT seminar can sign up either at AlliedSignal's booth, or in advance at its Internet site, http://www.asresin.com, which features a complete schedule and listing of the firm's NPE seminars.