FITCHBURG, MASS. — With donations of new software systems and injection molding equipment valued at $755,000, as well as a $1,000 check from the Society of Plastics Industry Inc.'s Moldmakers Division, the Leominister High School Center for Technical Education is preparing for the next century.
The donations were announced in separate ceremonies by the North Central Massachusetts Plastics Council and the SPI Moldmakers Division at MassPlastics '99, held March 24-25 in Fitchburg.
``Leominster is known as the `Plastics City,'*'' said Edwin Laetz, director of the school's CTE. ``Plastic awareness has always been in Leominster.''
The emphasis on using new technology has created more interest in the programs, he added.
``Six years ago we started with nothing — it was all World War II surplus, a typical machine shop,'' said Steve McNamara, a teacher at CTE with nine years of experience in the mold-making industry.
He said the program had five students six years ago and was in danger of ending. That's when the school formed an advisory board to get the plastics industry involved.
Since then, donations secured by the Plastics Council from the plastic industry for the city school have totaled $1.4 million.
The latest equipment includes 29 licenses for mold-making programming software from Cimatron Technologies Inc. of Burlington, Ontario; a refurbished, 60-ton press from Netstal Machinery Inc. of Devens, Mass.; and 12 licenses for manufacturing software from DP Technology Corp. of Camarillo, Calif. Cimatron and Netstal are providing teaching materials and training for CTE instructors.
Washington-based SPI's donation is part of an ongoing program to train qualified mold makers, according to Walt Bishop, executive director of the Moldmakers Division.
McNamara said using the latest machinery and software gives local students a big advantage.
``Last year we placed nine of 11 [graduates by May], and all 11 were working by September,'' he said.