AKRON—Expansion of the educational outreach program represents a critical component of the ACS Rubber Division's five-year strategic plan, which began Jan. 1.
And thanks in part to an insightful perception by a high school freshman—along with the determination of his mother—the Rubber Division has inaugurated a space a few steps away from its Akron headquarters dedicated to educating those in the rubber industry: Young, experienced and everywhere in between.
The Elastomer Training Center, a spacious, 32-seat classroom area, opened on Feb. 1. The center, the brainchild of Christie Robinson, the organization's training and development director, includes state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, conference areas, a kitchen and electronic hookups at each work station.
Located in Suite 201 of the same building as the Rubber Division headquarters on the campus of the University Akron, the center has already hosted several courses in 2016, with more to follow.
“I think the benefits are that I'm hoping in 2017 we'll start seeing a reduction in travel costs for instructors as well as me,” said Robinson, who is responsible for facilitating and managing all on-site training as well as on-line courses and the organization's burgeoning student outreach program. “Being located in Akron, it's going to be a good benefit for Akron as well as us because we have such a good pool of instructors and subject matter experts in this area that we can pull from for our technical and non-technical training.”
The center is open to any organization, member or non-member for technical and non-technical classroom instruction. Robinson hopes to use it to build on the Rubber Division's student outreach program.
Last fall, under Robinson's guidance along with support from 2015 Chair Terry DeLapa, the organization conducted a high school program titled “Experience Elastomers: A Day of STEM-Based Rubber Inquiries.” Nearly 150 students and faculty, from nine Northeast Ohio high schools, heard lectures and participated in hands-on experiments led by ACS polymer ambassadors and other members during the International Elastomer Conference, held last October in Cleveland.