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Campus Plays Host to National Meeting of Powder Metal Industry

In the photo, Jason Gabler (center) of Advantage Metal Powders in Ridgway examines equipment in the Penn State DuBois engineering labs.
10/20/2009 —

DuBois - Penn State DuBois recently hosted a conference for professionals in the Powder Metal (PM) industry, which attracted more than two dozen industry representatives from three states.  Companies from throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio were represented at the conference, and some in attendance came from as far away as Illinois.  The event allowed for networking among those professionals, and gave them the opportunity to learn about the services Penn State DuBois can offer their businesses.


The day began with the Powder Metallurgy Equipment Association's (PMEA) Board of Directors meeting.  PMEA represents PM companies across the nation, and promotes research and education in the industry.


Following the meeting, Penn State DuBois faculty and staff presented a program, Technology-Based Economic Development; Building Partnerships Between Penn State DuBois and the Powder Metallurgy and Particulate Materials Industries. The program showcased the campus resources available to these industries that can help them be more successful.  Following discussions, tours of campus Engineering and Information Science and Technology labs were offered.


"The industry is already successful in this area, but we want to further that success by connecting the industry with the university," said Joe Polito, a manager with SMS Meer in Cranberry Township, PA.  Also a PMEA member and a Penn State DuBois alumnus, Polito was instrumental in bringing the conference to the campus.  "I want to see the university I graduated from work with this industry," he said. "I know there's so much the campus can offer.  There are a lot of resources here that could be utilized." 


Glen Rishel, a Penn State DuBois Research Technician, explained that much of the equipment in the campus engineering labs can be used by local PM companies free of charge.  to support product development.  This service is supported by the Powder Metals Initiative Grant and allows regional PM companies to have access to equipment and faculty expertise in the areas related to engineering.  This can benefit the companies who might not have certain machines at their business location. 


"We've actually had 10 different companies use our lab equipment this year," said Rishel.  "They use our machines for things like testing the strength and integrity of material, or analyzing material to see what it's composed of."


The composition of material can mean everything to a PM manufacturer.  Jason Gabler, the sales manger for Advantage Metal Powders in Ridgway said he's interested in using the campus scanning electron microscope for that purpose.  "I could definitely use the scanning equipment," he said.  "We get powders every now and then that we don't fully understand, and we don't know what's in the powder.  This can tell us what it's made of.


Gabler said different powder metals are used for different parts, and knowing what's in the powder is vital.  "Each element makes the powder's characteristics different, and it makes the part you're making act differently depending on what's in the powder," he said.


The conference goers also had the opportunity to see what the Penn State DuBois engineering programs are all about.  Associate Professor of Engineering Craig Stringer said the curriculum is focused on real-world needs.  "We are preparing our students with the tools they need today, tomorrow and five year's from now," said Stringer.  He said he's confident that graduates of the program will have all the skills they need for success the day they receive their diploma. 


"We really want to help our local industry," said Penn State DuBois Chancellor Anita McDonald.  "We want to showcase the resources available on campus to support the Powder Metal industry, and partner with more companies in this industry.  We offer our facilities and our students to help them solve real problems, and our students also benefit from that experience."  

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