Polymers really are remarkable. That's easy to forget, even for people in plastics. They got a reminder at SPE's Annual Technical Conference May 8, thanks to a fascinating speech by Robert S. Langer. Langer, a pioneer in the field of using polymers to deliver drugs inside the body, won the Society of Plastics Engineer's International Award for 1996. The honor is perhaps the most prestigious annual plastics industry award. Still, as anyone who has attended a few ANTECs knows, that morning acceptance speech can be a real snoozer.
Not Langer's. His speech popped with the energy of a bright man who picked out a fairly narrow field, polymers in biomedicine, became an expert and has seen his work directly improve human life.
He even sprinkled in some humor, comparing medicine's slow path through winding molecular pores to driving in Boston.
When he outlined the next step-literally growing human replacement parts for transplanting inside a patient-Langer previewed what medicine could be like in the coming new century.
Polymers will make it happen.
Thanks to Robert Langer and his energizing address, that message was delivered loud and clear.
Education served by SPE's Super Session
The strong attendance at SPE's 54th Annual Technical Conference sessions in Indianapolis May 5-10 underscored not only the strength of the organization, but the quality of members' scholarship in science and plastics engineering.
Education is understandably a consistent theme of the Society of Plastics Engineers. That is evident in both the quality and the large number of technical papers presented each year at the conference.
This year, the first plastics technologist certification examination was given during the conference. Thirty-two people registered for the six-hour examination, which 27 people took on May 8.
The organizers also added a ``Super Session'' to the program at Indianapolis, a fifth-day event designed for nontechnical presentations by representatives of manufacturing industries who see plastics as a means of helping them address political, social and economic issues.
That event, spearheaded by SPE's Thermoforming, Blow Molding and Automotive divisions, also is scheduled to be part of ANTEC '97 in Toronto April 28-May 2.
While the Super Sessions are a good idea, conference organizers should shorten the program next year and consider shifting the sessions to earlier in the week. Such changes would allow more time for discussion and help to ensure more people would stay for the full session.