So you Wanna be a Rock Star
So you Wanna be a Rock Star
“You want me to go where and do what?” I asked Tom Conklin my boss, Director of Sales and Events at SPE.
And so that’s how I was lucky enough to find myself one Sunday at an Engineering Expo in White Plains, New York. Now this wasn’t just any ol’ Engineering Expo. This one was geared at getting high school students, who are interested in Math and Science, excited about engineering. Yes that’s right-it was my responsibility to singlehandedly get high school students on a Sunday afternoon excited about a career in plastics engineering. I know. I know. Those of you who have teenagers are laughing to yourselves. But I think I’m equipped for this challenge- I pride myself on understanding the engineering mind. After all, I do come from a long line of engineers-grandfather, father, 3 uncles, a brother, 3 cousins, a brother-in-law and a husband. So as far as I’m concerned if anybody is going to make a career as a Plastics Engineer sound like being a Rock Star, I think it’ll be me. Besides, if I’m honest with myself…I really didn’t have a choice.
I walked into the high school-boxes in hand-packed with brochures, the SPE banner and Plastics Engineering magazines. As I took out the magazines and placed them on the table I wondered to myself why I packed so many. Really, how many high schoolers are going to attend an Engineering Expo on a beautiful Sunday afternoon?
What happened next shocked me! The doors opened and people start pouring in. To be exact over 2,000 people came to speak with engineering colleges, professional organizations, public agencies, and private firms. They came to take part in hands on displays and demonstrations. And they came to ask a lot of questions.
“Plastics Engineer? Really? I didn’t even know there was such a thing! What kind of degree do you need? Are there schools that have Plastics Engineering degrees? What does a Plastics Engineer do anyway? Isn’t working with plastics unsafe? Sounds kinda boring?”
It just so happened that I had just read an article “Life Without Plastics” in the March 2012 Plastics Engineering magazine. It was the first editorial of the new SPE CEO Wim De Vos. I was armed, I was ready and I had answers.
“Do you know why a Plastics Engineer job is so important?” I asked. “Do you know almost everything you touch has plastics in it? Did you know that without plastics packaging some of your favorite foods would spoil? Do you know that plastic piping is used in water systems so there is less contamination to your drinking water? Did you know that plastics are being used in automobile parts so that cars are lighter making gas consumption less? Do you know that the shirt you are wearing has synthetic polymer fibers in them? Whose job is it to design or make these things?” Okay. I had captured their interest. I had covered most of the major teen interest groups...food, cars and fashion. Now to close the deal……
“As a Plastics Engineer you can expect a starting salary of….” The high schooler eyes widen and he asked “Are you sure?” I told him of course I was sure. “I got the information first hand. For the past 6 years SPE partnered with Gros Recruiters on an annual salary survey. The survey results are a Member Only benefit but” I said as I lowered my voice and looked around like I was letting out secret CIA information…..”but I was willing to share that one tiny bit of information with you.” He looked at me, digested the information, picked up a copy of Plastics Engineering magazine and thanked me.
I got an email from him the other day. He wanted to let me know that he had decided that maybe engineering was in his future. He may not play an instrument. He may never sing a note. But he’s a Rock Star to me.