The Society of Plastics Engineers is undergoing a youth movement led by its new president, Russell Broome.
My presidency will be focused on a new and vital role for young people to be more fully engaged in the society at all levels, he said.
Broome, 39, urged the 15,000-member SPE to embrace change, in a May 2 speech during Antec 2011 in Boston. He pledged to work hard to attract more students and young plastics professionals to the society.
Broome noted that SPE began as a local organization, so that people could meet once a month. Today members fly thousands of miles to attend conferences. They meet daily on SPE's website. More than 2,000 people use SPE's Facebook page, and the society connects 7,000 plastics professionals through LinkedIn.
The landscape of our lives is no longer punctuated by change. The landscape of our lives has become change personally and professionally, said Broome, who is strategic accounts manager at Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne Corp. He works out of High Point, N.C.
Broome will lead SPE for the 2011-12 year. He succeeds Ken Braney, who is credited with building the organization's global footprint and forging links with plastics companies.
I believe our adaptability as an organization is the single most critical trait we need to remain viable, Broome said in his speech. I likewise believe that without the robust involvement of today's younger professionals, we will not achieve our potential as a global professional society.
Broome's motivation to get more young SPE activists comes from his own personal history. He was working on a mechanical engineering degree at North Carolina State University when he started attending SPE meetings at the Piedmont-Coastal Section in South Carolina, going with his father, Clark Broome. He became a student member and joined the university's student chapter. Exposure to plant tours and speakers led to summer internships and his first full-time job in plastics.
I started as a student member. So that's kind of been my passion all along. And now I have a chance to really incorporate some changes in that regard, Broome said.
After serving as section president, he moved up to serve on the SPE council. He joined the nominating committee and then, in 2005, was named a vice president. He has served for two years as chairman for the student activities committee.
Broome said Newtown, Conn.-based SPE deserves credit for the many ways it already helps young people. The SPE Foundation has given away more than $1.6 million in college scholarships and grants to institutions. SPE puts its money where its mouth is, he said.
SPE also hosts more than 200 student chapters around the world. Students present technical papers at Antec, attend local awards nights and participate in essay competitions.
At Antec, Broome announced a new academic outreach committee, headed by Roger Kipp, vice president of engineering at McClarin Plastics Inc., a thermoformer in Hanover, Pa. Roger has got a real passion for linking industry with academia, Broome said at an Antec news conference.
Also at Antec 2011, Broome appointed the first-ever student to the SPE Executive Committee Robert Duncan, a plastics engineering major at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
In another first, SPE organized a competition to pick a U.S. candidate for the Young Persons' World Lecture Competition. Contestants had to give a 15-minute lecture. The winner, Elisa Guzman-Teipel, is a co-founder and research director of Whole Tree Inc. a company in Waco, Texas, that works on agricultural waste, such as coconut shells, as fillers in plastics.
Guzman-Teipel had delivered her winning lecture from the office, via Skype.
At the student awards luncheon, Broome added another modern-day touch by using his iPad to call her. Standing at the podium, he turned the screen to face the audience.
She smiled, waved and thanked SPE a message from the plastics industry's next generation.