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Two Mich. colleges forming plastics engineering courses

By: Frank Antosiewicz

May 15, 2013

DETROIT -- Schoolcraft College and Mid Michigan Community College, both in Michigan, are taking steps to build plastics engineering programs.

Sasson Tarahomi, president-elect of the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Detroit division, will teach the first course at Schoolcraft in Livonia beginning this month and predicts it will lead to more opportunities for workers and employers.

Tarahomi earned a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in plastics engineering. Michigan is heavily laden with automotive-related companies, he noted — and they need workers.

“We’re looking to put a program together with the people in the industry. They know what it takes to develop parts and we’re going bring the experience together.”

He and college officials worked out the details during the last eight months, he said.

Amy Jones, Schoolcraft’s business development director, said, “Different members of SPE came to us and said there is real need for this type of program.”

There is no grant money yet, she said, but about 20 local companies have shown interest and there are possible job opportunities. Additional courses, possibly to be held at companies, are being considered as well.

Tarahomi has worked in the plastics industry for 24 years and currently is corporate materials engineering manager at International Automotive Components Group in Southfield, Mich.

The first course, “Introduction to Plastics Materials,” will give 20 students an overview of the industry during a 15-week period. Each week, Tarahomi said, he will bring in an expert on the topic for part of the class.

Initially the course will be non-credit, but it is being developed as part of a credited program and will “plant the seed” for a plastics engineering certificate program.

In July, Mid Michigan received a three-year grant for $700,000 through the National Science Foundation, and plans to create a plastics technology program on its Harrison campus.

MMCC will offer non-credit training, academic certificates and an associate’s degree that will integrate with a bachelor’s program at Ferris State University. In the next two years, the school said, it will build on existing trade and technical classes to form a program focused on plastics technology.