Nypro Inc. is partnering with Fitchburg State College to launch an online plastics technology certificate program.
Fitchburg State will host the college-accredited program on its educational portal using Blackboard software.
The agreement continues a relationship started in 1980, when Clinton-based Nypro and the college first paired to offer courses under the Nypro Institute banner at the firm's Clinton facility and at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
``It is all about learning, all about innovation and making a difference,'' said Fitchburg State President Robert Antonucci.
The new program will allow students to learn at leisure about such subjects as injection molding, mold design or supervising principles. The certificate requires eight classes and 24 credits.
The platform allows employees, customers, competitors and others access information worldwide, said Angelo Sabatalo, corporate director of organizational development and training at Nypro's Clinton plant.
The program will extend the reach of the Nypro Institute - now renamed Nypro University.
Sabatalo said more than 120 students have graduated from the certificate program and many more have taken courses. Nypro President Brian Jones estimates that about two-thirds of the employees working in Clinton have taken at least one course.
Meantime, Nypro University is expanding its workshop training in Clinton to give Nypro University the capability to teach scientific master molder skills. The faciilty already houses resources for Mount Wachusett State College and serves as the Northeast training center for RJG Inc. of Traverse City, Mich.
Offering more education to anyone, including competitors, does not worry Jones: ``We don't have the old `beat the competition to the ground' mentality. If you can raise the industry to another level, it is good for them, but also good for us.''
In other news at Nypro:
* The firm completed its fiscal year in July with $957 million in sales, a jump of 18 percent over last year, and Jones is predicting more than $1 billion next year.
* Nypro is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Jones did not want to spill too many details about Nypro's plans, but said the anniversary will be celebrated at all plants - starting at sunrise in Tokyo, and spreading to its 66 facilities around the world, with the last celebration that day in Juneau, Alaska. A special totem pole is being built in Juneau and will be unveiled at the ceremony in Clinton.
* Juneau-based Sealaska Corp. and Nypro are teaming up for a third joint venture. The new agreement transfers ownership of one line at Nypro's Dothan, Ala., plant to the venture, which is ``a business within a business,'' said Nypro spokesman Al Cotton.
Sealaska now is a 51 percent stakeholder in Nypro operations in Guadalajara, Mexico; Mount Pleasant, Iowa; and Dothan. The plants qualify as minority-owned suppliers, because Sealaska is owned by native Alaskans.
Nypro owns 49 percent of the ventures and handles the production.
The newest venture will be housed inside Nypro Alabama. The venture will serve Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. P&G recently sponsored Sealaska in a National Minority Supplier Development Council program called ``Corporate Plus.''
The three Sealaska-Nypro joint ventures collectively are known as Nypro Kanaak.