I'll be blogging from Antec 2007 and Plastics Encounter in Cincinnati for the next few days. One of the highlights today was the speech by incoming Society of Plastics Engineers President Vicki Flaris, who spoke about the vision and direction of SPE. One of her main points was how globalization is changing the plastics industry, and how the changes are affecting SPE:
The plastics industry is truly global. Manufacturing and research are migrating to China and India. It is expected that by 2020, the Asian region will be the leading producer of polymers. New developments for polymers will occur at an extremely fast pace in cross-disciplinary fields such as biochemistry, electronics and communications. International corporations are expected to spend most of their R&D money in China, the U.S., and India, in that order. New centers of materials R&D are emerging in Singapore, China, South Korea and Taiwan, owing to major government funding. In 2000, 500,000 engineering degrees were awarded in China out of 1 million engineering degrees awarded globally in materials science and engineering.SPE's motto for 2007-08 is "No borders," because, she said, "There are no geographical borders for polymer research, there are no borders for where extra polymer capacity is added, and there are no borders where the information can, and will, flow." This trend isn't new, but it's interesting to step back and get someone else's perspective on how globalization is changing plastics, and to see how SPE is reacting. I think they're on the right track.