The Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pa., held a dedication ceremony Sept. 24 for the Shell Polymers Rotational Molding Center of Excellence.
Shell Chemical was recognized for its support for facilities to help plastics students at the college.
In her remarks, Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour said Pennsylvania's plastics industry directly employs nearly 50,000 people, with a payroll of $2.5 billion. Those numbers will increase when Shell's big petrochemicals site near Pittsburgh begins production, set for the early 2020s. The complex will produce ethane from shale gas gathered through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The project will include about 3.5 billion pounds of production capacity for polyethylene — a major material for rotomolding.
Hilary Mercer, Shell's vice president of Pennsylvania Chemicals, said supporting education is important for its petrochemical project.
"What we have also found here is that there is a strong reservoir of local talent in our industry, in no small measure because of the Pennsylvania College of Technology," Mercer said. "Your plastics and polymers program is both well established and renowned across the country within our industry. And we feel quite fortunate to have you close to the base of operations we are currently building in Beaver County."
Penn College is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Plastics Innovation and Resource Center. More than 12,000 people have been trained through the PIRC, said Shannon Munro, the college's vice president for workforce development.
"Nearly 500 students have graduated from our plastics programs," she said.