The July class was filled to its 16-student capacity. Attendees included account executives, quality technicians, business developers and research and development staff. They included three students from Lithuania, two from Canada and others from seven different states. Just two were from Wisconsin.
In fact, instructor Roland Gong, an associate professor of paper science and engineering at UW-Stevens Point, expressed some amazement that the course doesn't draw more from Wisconsin.
"We have a lot of converters here in Wisconsin," Gong said, noting that the class is especially relevant to those in that segment of the paper industry. "We don't just make paper here, we use it. Packaging is a really big user of paper, film and adhesive."
Gong said several factors probably contribute to the overall growth in attendance. "Topics we discuss are for flexible packaging and that is always going to boom with the economy - the economy booms, that goes well," he said.
Further, feedback from prior course attendees has been excellent and has led to many referrals. The latest offering included at least a half-dozen attendees from companies that had sent students in the past. "Now the word is slowly spreading out," Gong said. "I get professionals in the industry calling me because they are aware of my course and workshop now. In the past I didn't hear that."
Samantha Stone, a supplier quality coordinator with Oliver Health Care Packaging in Pennsylvania, said her boss had previously attended the WIST coating and lamination course and sent her. She's been with the company just under a year and said the course would help her understand how product defects occur and how issues could be resolved with suppliers.
Two other Oliver employees were also at the course, including Penny Lakanen, who has been with the company 23 years and works at its Grand Rapids, Michigan plant. "Learning more about all of it always helps," Lakanen said. "I'm going through the same issues, trying to find what the defect is, what's inherent in the process and what shouldn't be there for the quality of the materials we use. I'm more interested in films, myself, right at this moment, truly understanding the process better."
Zacharia Corcimiglia was one of several Michelman employees at the course. "I'm just continuing my education, perfecting what we do," he said. "We sell coatings into industry leaders in packaging, flexible packaging specifically. I am the technical sales manager, so I'll go into companies and sell them solutions, develop trials with that, help them perfect their coatings. Roland is teaching different aspects to where I can maybe apply my knowledge to help my customers."
Three attendees came all the way from Lithuania for the course. They're with Roquette Amilina. Zygintas Sereika, a business developer with the company, is responsible for areas including lamination and binding paper and polymers. "In Europe we've had a couple of these trainings or seminars already and it doesn't make any sense to repeat those. We were looking for something new, so this is why we are here."
The recently completed course included a presentation by Rory Wolf of Pillar Technologies, Hartland, Wisconsin, a specialist in film corona treatment, on surface treatment. "We have and will continuously collaborate with the industry professionals to provide a tailored workshop for future courses," Gong said.
WIST expects to offer the course again in January but exact dates haven't been set. The
will update that information when it becomes available.