More than six decades after graduating, Thomas R. Schidel continues to appreciate the quality education he received at The University of Akron – and the many opportunities it provided him.
To demonstrate his gratitude, he recently established The Thomas R. Schidel Scholarship Fund in Engineering, which will provide annual awards to students enrolled in the College of Engineering at The University of Akron who demonstrate academic success and financial need. Schidel hopes his gift will inspire these students to make the most of their education and to give back one day as well.
Schidel’s relationship with the University dates to the late ‘40s, when he was a student. After earning a degree in mechanical engineering in 1950, he accepted a job with Rubbermaid and launched a highly successful career in the emerging field of rotational molding. Schidel, in fact, was instrumental in developing the company’s first rotational molding manufacturing plants in California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and Canada.
Initially a slow, little-used process, rotational molding eventually became standard practice for the manufacture of hollow parts such light globes, flotation tanks, and kayaks.
Schidel’s expertise in rotational molding, along with a growing demand for the process, led him to cofound Rotocast Plastics Products in 1967. Rotocast ultimately expanded to include five locations, and Schidel remains active as a beneficial owner of the company, which today is known as GSC and based in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
In 1998, he was inducted into the Rotational Molding Hall of Fame, the highest honor the Association of Rotational Molders International bestows on a single individual for outstanding service, accomplishments, and contributions to further the growth of the rotational molding industry.
Over the years, Schidel has been a generous benefactor to The University of Akron. In addition to the scholarship, he has provided support for, among other things, the Student Design Center in the College of Engineering. In 2010, the College honored Schidel as its Outstanding Alumnus, and The Thomas R. Schidel Conference Room was created to recognize his contributions to industry and the University.