Plastics Engineering Schools Colleges & Universities

If you're strong in math and science and want to help advance our use of plastics, consider plastics engineering colleges. Degrees in plastics engineering can be gained at all levels. Plastics engineering schools are touting 100 percent job placement for graduates. Read more here about plastics engineering colleges.

Professionals in Demand: Plastics Engineers: Perhaps no material is so equally loved and loathed than plastic. Plastics have made our lives easier and safer, especially in the medical world. Plastics have made prostheses possible, have given the U.S. the lowest rate of cross-staph infection (because of plastic medical disposables), and, from surgical gloves to MRI machines to feeding tubes, have daily improved the lives of people.

But, unfortunately, plastics have not been so good to our natural landscape. The approximate 500 billion plastic bags, tons of Styrofoam, and other plastic "junk" tossed out each year clutter the global landscape, kill up to 1 million sea creatures each year, and release toxic chemicals in the air, soil, and water.

Students earning degrees in plastics engineering are working to remove the Jekyll and Hyde quality to plastics. Plastics engineering colleges are creating innovative ways to maximize the benefits and minimize the damage of plastics.

Certificates + Degrees from Plastics Engineering Colleges: Degrees in plastics engineering can be earned at the associates', bachelors', masters' and PhD levels. To be admitted into associate or bachelor programs, you'll need to complete your high school diploma or GED, preferably with a strong background in science and math. Many plastics engineering schools, such as Penn State Erie, suggest to their entrepreneurial students to consider minoring (or double-majoring) in business.

To be considered for graduate-level plastics engineering schools, you'll need to have completed your undergraduate degree in plastics engineering or other closely related field in science/engineering. Those with degrees in completely different fields might qualify, but will need to complete necessary prerequisites in engineering and science before they can proceed with graduate work.

Some plastics engineering colleges offer condensed certificate programs. The University of Massachusetts, Lowell, for instance, offers an online Graduate Certificate in Plastics Engineering Fundamentals to those who have earned at least B.S. degrees in science or engineering. This 12-credit online certification program includes courses in advanced plastics, plastics design, properties, and applications.

Who Are Plastics Engineers? According to University of Wisconsin (UW) Stout Polytechnic University, jobs for Plastics Engineering graduates include:

  • • Product design
  • • Research & development
  • • Mold and/or tool design
  • • Process simulation
  • • Experimental design and/or manufacturing

To be successful at Plastics Engineering schools, you'll need a strong aptitude for math and science. It's also important for plastics engineers to possess strong communication skills; programs should include courses in English composition and/or communications.

The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) is the key industry association of plastics engineering professionals. In addition to providing resources, conferences, and job information, SPE offers scholarships and grants to students pursuing degrees in plastics engineering.

From Plastics Engineering Schools to Careers: Plastics engineering colleges, such Michigan's Ferris State University, often tout consistent 100 percent job placement rates for plastics engineering graduates. In this rapidly-growing career, employers often struggle to find enough qualified candidates. The demand is high enough to warrant paying student interns (between $15 and $20 and hour, says UW).

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), materials engineers, which include plastics engineers, are projected to face 9 percent job growth between 2008 and 2018. In 2009, materials engineers earned a median $83,190 annual salary, says the BLS. Plastics engineers find jobs in private corporations, government, and education.

Candice Mancini.

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