The SPE Foundation recently announced the outstanding individuals who have been selected as the Foundation’s 2023 scholarship recipients. These scholarships are a testament to the Foundation's unwavering commitment to supporting the next generation of talent in the plastics industry.
The SPE Foundation offers a wide array of scholarships to students who have either demonstrated or expressed a strong interest in the plastics industry. To be eligible, students must be pursuing majors or courses that align with a future career in plastics. Eligible fields encompass plastics engineering, polymer science, chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, journalism, or communications. All applicants are required to be in good standing with their respective colleges.
This year, the SPE Foundation, in collaboration with numerous SPE chapters, the Plastics Pioneers Association, the Western Plastics Pioneers, PlastChicks, Arkema, and other generous donors, has proudly awarded the highest number of scholarships in its history. In total, $229,225 in scholarship funds will be distributed among 62 students hailing from 35 universities.
Here are a few highlights from the Foundation’s 2023 scholarship recipients:
Nicholas Gajkowski, a senior majoring in Polymer Materials Engineering at Western Washington University, has been awarded $12,500 in scholarship funds. Nicholas earned the Extrusion Division Russell Gould Scholarship, PPA Daniel Mohs Family Scholarship, Western Plastics Pioneers Joe LaFountain Scholarship, and Recycling Division Scholarship. Nicholas's remarkable recent achievements include his participation as a National Science Foundation Research for Undergraduates program scholar at the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he focused on advancing thermoset chemistries for use in aircraft wings.
Kirsten Sjoberg, a senior majoring in Polymer Materials Engineering and Computer Engineering at Lehigh University, has been granted $12,000 in scholarship funds. She secured the Extrusion Division Russell Gould Scholarship, Flexible Packaging Division Scholarship, PPA Scholarship, and Recycling Division Scholarship. Kirsten has spent the past two years working diligently with the PlasTech Ventures team on recycling multilayer packaging for use in the Philippines. She plans to continue her studies in polymer science and recycling post-graduation.
Among the 62 SPE Foundation Scholarship recipients, four talented students have been honored with the Arkema Scholarship. As high school students, Omaree Ishmael, Drue Keys, Dana Odums, and Kayla Young participated in Ecotek at Work! Lab in Detroit as Junior Researchers with support from Arkema. They were involved in applied research in polymer science and plastics engineering, and all four are currently freshmen at universities in Michigan with ambitions of entering the plastics industry.
Brian Lum, a graduate student at the University of Arkansas, has been awarded the Crain Communications Bill Bregar Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship supports students with aspirations of becoming journalists and business communicators in the plastics and manufacturing industries. Brian is currently a Technical Trainer at Plastic Ingenuity and earning his Master of Education in Human Resources and Workforce Development. He looks forward to a career as a technical trainer, leader, and communicator.
Eve Vitale, SPE Foundation Executive Director, expressed her enthusiasm for the program, stating, "We are proud to support these exceptional students who represent the future of the plastics industry. Their passion and dedication to their fields are truly inspiring."
Applications for the SPE Foundation's 2023-2024 scholarships will open on December 1, 2023. For a complete list of SPE Scholarship Foundation recipients, please visit www.4spe.org/Scholarships.
About the SPE Foundation
The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Foundation is the philanthropic arm of SPE, a global professional association dedicated to advancing plastics and polymer technology. The SPE Foundation supports educational initiatives that promote plastics education, diversity, equity, and inclusion, empowering students, and educators worldwide. Through programs like the PlastiVan®, the SPE Foundation aims to inspire the next generation of plastics professionals and foster sustainable solutions for the future. Visit www.spefoundation.org.