Pearl Technologies Inc., a leading manufacturer of parts for converting and extrusion capital equipment, is partnering with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) by providing packaging equipment to the college’s lab, donating money for a student scholarship and presenting at a program to encourage young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career opportunities.
Headquartered in Savannah, NY, Pearl is located about 60 miles east of RIT and has been involved with the college since 2011, when Pearl hired its first co-op student. It has hired numerous co-op students since then and has established an ongoing relationship with the college. This has included machinery and equipment donations to the college’s lab, such as a 5-punch demo kit and a micro-perforation unit capable of punching pin-size holes in plastic film. In addition, Pearl recently shipped a spreader bar for donation to the college’s blown film extrusion lab line.
"This new equipment in our lab adds to the overall process of packaging manufacturing and this will benefit our students as they learn more about our industry, and our faculty-researchers as they continue to improve processes," says Changfeng Ge, professor of packaging science in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST). He is also the director of the American Packaging Corp. Center for Packaging Innovation, located in the CAST building, where the new Pearl Technologies equipment has been installed. The center is a teaching, production and research laboratory focused primarily on plastics and innovative packaging research, as well as teaching the engineering concepts needed in plastics materials testing.
Linda Gillette, VP of operations at Pearl, says that Pearl works with the RIT students to help them specify and procure the equipment for their lab. “We’re all about creating a real world experience. We send them the same paperwork we send a customer. They fill it out, we make the product and then deliver the unit and manual. We’ve also offered to help them install any new donations and/or answer any questions relating to the plastics industry. We want to be a resource for the students.”
Most recently, upon discovering that Pearl donated to the Plastics Lab, another group at RIT, SMASH, sought out the company. Pearl was selected from a group of local businesses to work with the College of Science, Women in Science, and the Center for Advanced Science/ Math Teaching, Learning & Evaluation on "Summer Math Applications in Science with Hands-on Experience" (SMASH). The program introduces 8th grade girls to the importance of mathematical modeling in future jobs. The program will take place in July. Pearl’s Linda Gillette and Jennifer Gillette, a 2013 alum of the college, will prepare a presentation for the event to help inspire girls to follow a path of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Additionally, Pearl made a $500 donation for a student scholarship.
About RIT’s American Packaging Corporation Center for Packaging Innovation
The center is equipped to perform structural, morphological and performance investigations on packaging material, plastics and polymers. The type of processing changes a plastic undergoes during polymerization, molding, orientation, printing, coating, laminating and sterilizing etc., is also analyzed.
The lab is staffed by faculty and graduate students from a wide range of RIT’s nationally recognized degree programs including packaging, polymer chemistry, material science, mechanical engineering, and printing. Expertise across the college and university provide the center a multi-talented team to work on research projects, as well as with experts in specific areas to solve industry problems.