Lexington Peterson, 24, started her plastics career as an intern at the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites with Iowa State University and Washington State University, a program funded through the National Science Foundation for students interested in research.
"It began after my freshman year of college, so while I wasn't well-versed in plastics, … I knew I had a passion for sustainability and wanted to see what was in the works for our future. With [the program], I learned how to operate extrusion and injection molding machines to make blends of bioplastics into dog bones to study the blends' relationship to its mechanical properties," said Peterson, who graduated from Pittsburg State University in Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in plastics engineering technology and polymer chemistry.
During her time at Pitt State, Peterson assisted with "the integration, education and lesson plan development on our technology with my professors."
"In Cincinnati, I've traveled to high schools in the area to inspire the idea of STEM in a collegiate or technical career with boys and girls," she added.
She now works for Hamilton, Ohio-based Imflux Inc., a software and engineering subsidiary of Procter & Gamble Co., as a field process engineer.
Peterson said her greatest achievement thus far has been presenting at Antec in Denver in March 2023. In the Injection Molding II division, she covered "Imflux's research on a universal process that shares how this technology can allow mold and resin to be independent of a mold's qualification process."
Peterson also is an active member of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
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Q: What steps have you taken to advance in your career?
Peterson: To advance my career, I have scheduled biweekly meetings with my direct manger to provide personal and professional updates. Meetings like these have been a two-way street to help build trust and familiarity. I've volunteered to earn a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification around my work schedule to help build our team's knowledge base. This past year, I committed to a research and development project and [presented] at this year's Antec.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Peterson: Imflux! I have a great passion for our technology. Its potential to "change the way the world molds" is what I believe in. We have a feature called Auto-Viscosity Adjust that allows highly variable resins like ocean-bottle grade, post-consumer regrind, bioplastics, etc., to be run with no process/operator adjustments. Ultimately, the goal is for "autonomous molding." I truly feel that I have lucked out by joining this team of fearless innovators.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Peterson: The plastics industry should evaluate their executive teams. While companies may be more inclusive with their junior and mid-level roles, it still isn't evident to me in most executive-level positions.
At recruiting events for students, I have also seen some very cringey swag gifts. I'm going to have to pass on the camo hat and the Swiss army knife, thank you. It's obvious who the company's ideal audience is without even saying a word. Inclusive gifts like phone chargers, thumb drives or nothing at all would be better.