I was offended by both the cartoon and the Viewpoint (``Still vital to support worker certification'') presented in your May 17 issue . The implication of the worthless nature of the plastics certification, as presented in the cartoon, is far from reality. The certification is still recognized by the Society of Plastics Engineers, and will continue to be recognized.
The Viewpoint implied that the term ``technologist'' is ambiguous and confusing. The author neglected to reach for a good dictionary, much less ask the Institute of Plastics Certification for a working definition.
The Institute for Plastics Certification has defined technologist as: ``A plastics professional who has demonstrated the knowledge and ability to apply mathematics, the physical sciences and engineering principles and methods to plastics technological problem solving.'' The definition is well within my company's description of a technologist, as well as many modern dictionary definitions.
I would suggest that it is the industry itself that is confusing and ambiguous. After a survey in which 85 percent of the respondents supported certification, none came forward to take the exam. The 170-some-odd individuals that passed the test represented an 88 percent pass rate. OK guys, where were ya?
What about company support? How many companies supported employees with time off for study, training, or even time to take the exam? How many companies contributed to the cost of certification in any substantial way?
I was present at a board of advisers meeting at a state technical college when Drew Fleming presented what was then a new [Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.] operators exam. Every employer present was enthusiastic about the SPI exam. However, when questioned about rewarding the test takers, very few committed to increased compensation for those who passed the exam. At the same meeting, Fleming deferred to the SPE Technologist Certification as the next logical stem in a professional ladder. Well guys, that ladder has just lost a rung.
I for one can not fault SPE for trying to bring professional certification to a 50-year-old industry. I had no trouble finding information in more than one professional publication, nor did I have any trouble finding an exam site. My employer recognized the importance of professional certification and supported my decision to take the exam. I believe the blame for the demise of certification falls on the shoulders of industry members, not at the feet of SPE officials.