AKRON, OHIO — Russell Broome laid out plans by the Society of Plastics Engineers to attract more young people to plastics during the SPE Akron Section's annual awards night.
“One of my strong areas of focus is re-energizing not only the student demographic but young professionals,” said Broome, who was named SPE's managing director last year.
Broome had a good venue to outline SPE's efforts to gain both younger members, and also involve more original equipment manufacturers in society events. At the banquet, held May 18 at Firestone Country Club, the Akron Section gave out four scholarships to college students, named the high school winners of an essay contest, and honored two industry veterans for longstanding service to SPE.
Broome joined SPE as a student member while in college at North Carolina State University in 1992. He served as SPE president for the 2011-2012 year.
SPE has beefed up its social media presence, through its site The Chain — for polymer chain — on the SPE website. The Chain includes a moderated discussion platform called Tech Talk, a career area matching people with jobs and a chat room called the SPE Cafe.
“We're trying to get the message out the way they are communicating today,” Broome said.
And now, instead of $31 a year, student membership to SPE is free, thanks to a partnership between SPE and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. Student membership dues are waived, as SPI and SPE share the membership costs. The offer applies to students who are U.S. citizens with primary residency in the United States.
Broome said that SPE ran a trial free-membership in the fourth quarter of 2014, and SPE's student population more than doubled, from about 1,100 to 2,500. That led SPE to find a way to subsidize student membership fees.
In his Akron talk, Broome also said SPE wants to attract more OEMs to society activities. That can help students make important connections, he said.
“I'm very focused on trying engage our academic demographic with the corporate, industrial side of our industry. You'll see us trying to partner with folks like Apple, Stihl and Tupperware to bring them into our functions, our events, our Topcons,” he said.