As Plastics News staff was putting together this special issue, someone floated the idea to include then-and-now photos showing staff in '89 and today. We could marvel over youthful faces, chuckle over questionable fashion choices … and wonder where Kerri was, because it's hard to get a photo of someone who hasn't yet been born.
At 25, Plastics News is older than I am. And for this anniversary issue, I sought out members of my own millennial generation, who like me grew up as Plastics News did and are now entering the plastics industry ready to carry it forward over the next 25 years.
We talked about what drives them, what challenges them and what they see in the future.
Here's what they had to say.
Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Matthew Peterman, 21
Senior at Pennsylvania College of Technology, Plastics and Polymer Engineering Technology
Matthew has held internships at Rodon Group LLC and East Penn Manufacturing Co. Inc. He is currently president of his college's student chapter of the Society of Plastics Engineers and part of SPE's Next Generation Advisory Board.
Q: Why plastics?
Peterman: My senior year in high school I had an engineering materials course and we focused really heavily on a really big chunk of plastics processing. All lab-scale demonstrations and stuff, but it was really catching to me, and that's how I started to look into plastics.
Q: What's an accomplishment you're proud of?
Peterman: I think I worked for some really good companies in my past summers. Just coming out of school as a first-year student and landing a pretty good job with the Rodon Group my first summer I felt was a pretty good accomplishment.
Q: What are some challenges you have faced?
Peterman: I think finding a way to connected is a good challenge. I utilized [SPE] to kind of break that challenge of getting connected and networking in a group, but I think overall my generation in this field struggles to get connected and network with the existing professionals in the industry.
Q: How would you like to have an impact on the industry?
Peterman: I want to be a leader in the industry. I'm very involved with SPE, I'm involved with their Next Generation Advisory Board, so my goal is that I'd like to become more involved with the national SPE chapter, become involved with the SPE in whatever area I work in the United States, and continue spreading the knowledge of plastics and what the industry is to the next generation below me. And I'd like to work with my college to promote the industry. That's my goal.
Q: What's next in your career?
Peterman: I like to problem-solve so I'm looking toward process engineering. And I've had a lot of internships in injection molding — that's where the bulk of my summer internships were focused on — so I might be heading toward process engineering in an injection molding company.
Q: What could a company do to make itself stand out to you?
Peterman: A company that really stands out to me is one that looks at more than just my grades are — what I've done along with my education, what my background is along with my involvement in the industry. A company that looks at not just the first chunk of my resume that says where I went to school and my grades, but they're really focused on what I've done and what I've been involved with.
Q: What do you think is the most exciting thing in the industry right now?
Peterman: We do so many cool things; that's a hard question. We have a composites course in school, about the advancements in the advanced composite materials; I think that's really cool.
Just the different ways they're using carbon fibers and the more advanced fiberglass materials in more than just the old traditional methods. The new carbon fibers are a lot more advanced with different fabric designs, different capabilities. Race cars — that's completely carbon fiber now. But they're implementing that into other industries, medical industries, prosthetics, stuff like that. That has become really cool.