Akron, Ohio, Sept. 18, 2006 — Even before it has opened, the University of Akron’s Medina County University Center (MCUC) has registered its first students in a new Polymer Certification Program for employees working with plastics and elastomers.

The program, developed in partnership with area polymer companies, has 128 hours of instruction spread across eight course modules. It provides technical training and teaches basic industry skills such as technical math, environmental protection and manufacturing management. “The curriculum responds directly to industry driven needs,” says Sue Louscher, MCUC director. “It will help employees gain knowledge and skills that will help them make their companies more competitive and profitable.”

Students in the first class have been drawn from companies such as Plastipak Packaging, Michael Day Enterprises, and Multibase.

“The partnerships that have been established at all levels of the development and delivery of this program represent the collaboration model that we use for the development of all MCUC offerings – both credit and non-credit,” says Dr. Elizabeth Stroble, Senior Vice President and Provost.
“After more than a year of working in partnership to develop this curriculum, we are very excited to enroll our employees in this class. This program will help our company improve its competitiveness and our associates will gain skills that will help them to advance within our organization,” says Chris Evans, site manager, Plastipak Packaging.
In addition to being an example of a partnership approach to curriculum development, the program is also unique in that it creates a new model for delivering workforce development programs in an environment where employees are already stretched thin trying to balance work and family obligations. The Polymer Certification Program incorporates a blend of Web-based instruction, classroom sessions and laboratory experiences that allow employees to learn the majority of the content when it is convenient for them and minimizes their time away from work or family.

“Another aspect of this program that makes it a unique model for program development and delivery is the relationship that has been established with Medina Works, the local workforce development center,” Louscher notes. Through that agency, the Summit and Medina County Workforce Policy Board has made training funds available to Medina and Summit County companies to help offset the cost of enrolling workers in the program. “This is a very proactive step by the board to tap into these funds; it could be used as a model for future collaboration. In exchange for the funding, the companies will track the ways that the training affects company performance.”
The first class is underway and MCUC is planning to repeat the program in January, 2007. Slots are still open for that class and funding assistance will be made available to companies on a first-come-first-served basis.

For more information, contact Louscher at 330-721-2210 or e-mail slousch@uakron.edu.

The University of Akron is the public research university for Northern Ohio. It is the only public university in Ohio with a science and engineering program ranked in the top five nationally by U.S. News & World Report. Serving approximately 23,000 students, the university offers more than 350 associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and law degree programs and 100 certificate programs at sites in Summit, Wayne, Medina and Holmes counties.

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