23 June 2009 23:11 [Source: ICIS news]
CHICAGO (ICIS news)--The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) is adopting a three-pronged programme to reverse a membership decline, which has brought enrolment down by 47% from an all-time peak that exceeded 30,000 in 1999, the US technical group said on Tuesday.
The SPE attributed the decline to a number of factors during a presentation held at the 2009 National Plastics Exhibition (NPE) in Chicago, Illinois.
Several companies moved their operations from North America to overseas, where the SPE lacked a strong presence, said Paul Andersen, president.
In addition, many members have retired, and the society has found fewer replacements, Andersen said.
To reverse the decline, the society has adopted a programme that addresses technology, geography and younger members, Andersen said.
The society plans to increase its international presence by holding conferences and opening chapters in nations outside of the US, said Susan Oderwald, executive director of the SPE.
As such, the SPE is developing new groups in Mexico and the Middle East, she said. In addition, the group is holding a new technical conference, Eurotec, in 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, she said.
In addition, the society has created a new-technology committee to keep abreast of new developments, such as bioplastics and nano-materials, Andersen said.
That committee ties into the third prong of the society’s programme: that of attracting younger members.
Oderwald said bioplastics’ environmental image could appeal to youth, especially the millennial generation – so called because they came of age near 2000.
“There is no question that millennials very much want to make sure the work of their hearts and minds contribute to society,” she said.
In addition, nano-materials represent new, cutting-edge technology, which could draw young minds to the industry, she said.
Projects within the programme include establishing SPE pages on Facebook and LinkedIn; creating an online SPE encyclopaedia; holding virtual conferences; and creating a weekly feed of technical articles on new developments in plastics research.
In other news, the SPE has sold its building in Brookfield, Connecticut, and it is moving to Newtown, Connecticut, after NPE, she said. The SPE will likely maintain austerity measures and reduced staff levels through the year and into 2010.
More than 40,000 people had registered to attend the NPE. The event continues through Friday.
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