If the hype surrounding NPE2009 is not exciting enough, the chance of making it on TV might add some enthusiasm. Be polite, and smile at the two guys interviewing and filming the documentary. A documentary on what, you might ask? Plastics!
The Pennsylvania College of Technology and WVIA public television, located in Williamsport, Pa., are collaborating on a series called degrees that work. The documentary series is a broadcast production focused on building awareness of various careers.
“The topics are developed to coincide with Pennsylvania's targeted industry,” said Tom Speicher, video production developer.
The state has declared the following growth infustries: advanced materials and diversified manufacturing, agriculture and food production, construction, business and financial services, education, communications, life sciences, transportation, lumber, wood and paper.
The degrees that work Web site reports more than two-thirds of the jobs in Pennsylvania are found in those areas.
Speicher, 42, has a background in broadcast journalism and mainly conducts the interviews and writes the scripts for the series. He has worked for Penn College for 17 years. His partner, Chris Leigh, 40, is video production coordinator. Leigh has worked with Penn College for eight years and his experience is in video editing and directing.
The team began the documentaries about three years ago and their overlapping skills make them a great pair, Speicher said.
With the assistance of WVIA, documentaries featuring nanotechnology, welding and fabrication, and advanced manufacturing have already aired, and the one on plastics and polymers is in production. The documentaries have been recognized nationally and have received both TV and communication awards.
“We like to tell a story, and bring the facts of a specific career field to the story,” Speicher said. The documentaries are made available for K-12 classrooms and lesson plans are developed to “directly connect classroom resources with the state's workforce needs, Speicher said.
The team started the plastics documentary in Hatfield, Pa., where it toured the plant of K'nex Industries Inc., which makes construction toys. The movie will demonstrate how K'nex uses injection molding to make a piece for one of its sets.
Speicher said he tapped into resources at his college, too. Penn College, an affiliate of Penn State, has one of five plastics programs in the nation to be recognized by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, according to the college.
The program offers an associate's degree in applied science in plastics and polymer technology and a bachelor's in plastics and polymer engineering technology. The school's facilities include industrial-size plastics processing equipment and modern laboratory facilities.
Speicher and Leigh followed a group of high school students involved in “The Penn College Plastics Experience.”
“This program is meant to be a fun introduction to college,” Speicher said. During the workshop, students molded their own car frames, and raced their projects on a 300-foot track.
As for NPE2009, the crew has interviewed Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., and will be attending the show.
Speicher said the NPE segment will “document how global, vibrant and big the plastics industry is.” His goal there is to interview people who will speak about the job market and the reality of careers in plastics. The production team expects the documentary to be completed in the fall and thinks it will be a great recruitment tool for the plastics industry.
Each 28-minute documentary airs on public television, appears online and is available as a DVD or video. Anyone interested in more information can follow Speicher as he tweets about his progress on Twitter, or visit www.degreesthatwork.com.