PSI News: World Polymer Congress June 24-29
PSI News is the monthly newsletter of Polymer Solutions Incorporated. Please let us know how we're doing. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this issue:
=> Feature Story: World Polymer Congress June 24-29
=> Profile: Jim Rancourt, CEO of Polymer Solutions
=> Highlights from the Polymer Solutions Newsblog
=> Company News and Notes
World Polymer Congress June 24-29
by Katie McCaskey
Exclusive to Polymer Solutions News
Visitors from across the world will be convening in Blacksburg, Virginia, for the 44th biennial World Polymer Congress (WPC), the industry's premier event hosted by IUPAC, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. The plan? To "Invent the Future," as university host Virginia Tech's slogan suggests, and specifically, lead discussion around this year's theme: "Enabling Technologies for a Safe, Sustainable, Healthy World." In attendance will be leading scientists, engineers, researchers, top-of-field professionals, and innovative entrepreneurs.
More than 2,000 attendees -- nearly 70% of whom are traveling internationally -- will convene in Blacksburg the last week of June to share research, network, and "talk shop" about new developments in polymer science and engineering. More than 11 parallel educational sessions will span the event and cover a diversity of topics relating to the sustainability theme. Speakers and other presenters will demonstrate emerging, experimental techniques in polymer science. Discussions will focus on how advances in critical technologies are important to the health and sustainability of worldwide societies. Organizers anticipate that the intermingling of perspectives will spark new ideas and hasten cutting-edge research.
There are several unique off-site day trip excursions planned for conference attendees. Each day, during the conference lunch break, Polymer Solutions will be hosting a "VIP Lunch and Lab Tour." Polymer Solutions Incorporated is located just a few miles from the Virginia Tech campus and will be coordinating transportation for off-site tours of PSI Headquarters and independent testing lab. VIPs who take the tour will receive a valuable certificate -- a free Project Consultation and Report to be applied toward a future project with Polymer Solutions Incorporated. While you're visiting, be sure to meet Jim Rancourt, the founder and CEO.
PSI will also host a special evening event for attendees!The WPC exhibition will be held at Squires Student Center in the heart of the Virginia Tech Campus and adjacent to Torgersen Hall. Daily refreshments will be in Squires Ballroom after speaking sessions. Exhibitions will be available for viewing from Sunday, June 24, through Friday, June 29.
PSI will host a party at one of Blacksburg's favorite spots -- 622 North. The networking party will be held in 622's Wine Tasting Room and include a selection of fine wines, cheeses, and other savories. In the spirit of chemistry, the restaurant's sommelier will talk about the science of wine making as we experience different wines.
"Hooptie" vans will be ready and waiting to take you to this special event and also to return you to campus once we've had our fun. You will find vans located outside the exhibit hall on Alumni Mall Road. Since 622 North is within walking distance, feel free to take the scenic route, too.
To attend this event, you must connect with
the scientists of PSI at Booth #123 to reserve your spot!
It is an honor to have WPC in Blacksburg, especially considering some of the other recent venues: Paris (2004), Rio de Janeiro (2006), Taipei (2008), and Glasgow (2010). More information and last-minute registration is available here: http://www.cpe.vt.edu/macro2012/.
Image courtesy of Jason Barnette Photography, used under its Creative Commons license.
Profile: Jim Rancourt, CEO of Polymer Solutions Incorporated
By Dale McGeehon
Exclusive to Polymer Solutions News
"I describe what we do is like an emergency room for materials," Jim Rancourt says. "If an assembly line shuts down because of the introduction of a foreign body, that contaminant has to be identified immediately".
If a company making plastics, rubber, or adhesives suddenly loses control of its supply chain and needs to know the content of its products, it would do well to call Jim Rancourt and the company he started 26 years ago: Polymer Solutions Incorporated.
A team of chemists and engineers can test the product, identify contaminants, and examine the production methodology. Alternatively, if a company is not sure how to complete an innovation in plastics, polymers, or developments in medical devices, Polymer Solutions provides consulting on how to get the project completed.
This month, Polymer Solutions Incorporated has an opportunity to showcase its talents at the upcoming World Polymer Congress, being held just down the road from its headquarters, at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, June 24-29.
Rancourt is originally from Massachusetts. He earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Lowell, now UMass Lowell. While an undergraduate, Rancourt worked for Albany International Research Company, the research side of a textile and material processing firm. The company sent him to Virginia Tech to take a one-week polymer course.
Virginia Tech made an immediate impression on Rancourt. He was pleasantly surprised at the level of collaboration between the varying departments. For example, it was common for the professors in the Department of Chemistry to collaborate with the professors in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Those professors would, in turn, collaborate with professors in other science departments. In fact, there was a professor from the Department of Electrical Engineering who sat on the dissertation committee for Rancourt's doctoral degree in chemistry, which he earned in 1987.
His dissertation emphasized chemical analysis and physical testing of chemicals as they pertain to polymers. Rancourt specifically studied polymers whose properties dissipate a static electrical charge even at a high temperature. Such properties are useful in the aerospace industry.
Many of Virginia Tech's polymer projects involved finding the best composition of propellants for military rocket motors. While he was working on his dissertation, "some of that work came to me," Rancourt said. He had experience at Albany International at problem-solving and consulting, so he had the ability to provide analysis for those military-related clients.
Rancourt saw a business opportunity providing testing and analytical needs for these companies. He started Polymer Solutions Incorporated before he completed his doctorate. "At first, I thought it would be just me," he says. However, the number of projects grew and the company now has 32 employees, made up mostly of chemical engineers and chemists. There are other scientists as well, from environmental scientists to ceramic material experts, to a geologist. Clients come from as far away as Europe and Australia.
At a basic level, polymers are used in plastics, rubber, adhesives, and coatings. They are commonly present in everyday items, such as sporting goods and medical supplies. But their use is growing. As a result, polymers are becoming more innovative, and the industry is growing complicated and more diverse, Rancourt says.
Golf clubs, for example, were once made almost entirely of steel, but polymer-composite models are commonplace now. Almost every part of a car now has plastic in it, he says. Where cell phone towers used to be visible on top of tall buildings, plastic beams and panels hide the towers while transmitting communication signals -- all while providing a much more aesthetically pleasing silhouette and additional architecture options.
Beverage companies are shifting away from containers made with petroleum-based plastics to materials derived almost entirely from plants. The public often will not be able to notice that the containers are no longer made from petroleum based plastic, Rancourt says.
The collaboration that Rancourt noticed between departments at Virginia Tech is repeated in the collaboration that Polymer Solutions has with the university. "We work pretty closely with and interact with the professors, especially in specialized areas of expertise," he says. "We collaborate and refer work back and forth."
Virginia Tech continues to offer a collaborative relationship. When Polymer Solutions Incorporated needs to conduct specialized analysis with complicated and sophisticated instrumentation -- some of these machines cost in the multi-millions of dollars, currently outside of PSI's financial reach -- the university is happy to share their use.
Clients sometimes call the company to find out what the components are in a plastic material. There are applications that call for only virgin plastic resin and other applications that allow regrind plastic. If regrind plastic is used in applications that call for virgin plastic resin, then the product may not have the expected purity or performance, Rancourt says. Therefore, it is important for the manufacturer to know what, if any, contaminants are present.
Similarly, Polymer Solutions sometimes provides the scientific proof or evidence in a chemical analysis to help attorneys make recommendations to their clients in cases involving patent infringement or a violation of a trade secret.
Rancourt also has played a role in inventing materials. "Sometimes clients come to us with no idea how to make a device," he says. One client had an idea for a hydrogel that could treat wounds but he needed Polymer Solutions Incorporated's expertise to help him perfect it. The product was a success. It was tested on a dog whose leg had a wound that was deep enough to expose the bone. The hydrogel was applied to the wound, and within two weeks the wound had filled with tissue. Rancourt's name is on the product's patent.
The accomplishments are paying off. This past April, Rancourt was one of five people honored with an Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Award by Virginia Tech. The award was given in recognition of his contributions to excellence, innovation, and impact on the university's research.
The award is special to Rancourt because he's been in business in Blacksburg, VA, and has worked with the university for 26 years. Although he has clients across the country and throughout the world, he sometimes wondered whether the local community knew what the company was.
The award answered that question for him. "It's humbling to realize that there are people who know what we do and acknowledge the impact we've had by doing good chemical analysis," he says.
The World Polymer Congress may help increase the awareness of Polymer Solutions Incorporated. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend, 400 of them coming from various industries, Rancourt says. Many of the attendees will be people PSI has worked with in the past but has never met. Having a face-to-face could further cement bonds created through emails and phone calls.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Polymer Solutions can share its work with other Congress attendees. It will have a booth at the convention for networking. The company will also take visitors on tours of its laboratories and offer free project consultations.
The Congress has usually been held in major cities throughout the world. However, this year, "basically, the world is coming to our backyard," Rancourt says. "We'll be able to have one-on-one conversations with these people in a compressed amount of time."
Highlights from the Polymer Solutions Newsblog
The PSI Newsblog covers breaking news in the fields of plastics analysis, plastics testing, and plastics failure. Here are a few of the month's top articles:
- Wireless Defibrillator Gets Closer to Approval
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel has backed a new type of implantable heart defibrillator, but before the medical device gets full approval, other concerns will need to be addressed.
- Polymers Help Researchers Form New Antibiotics
Scientists have developed a method using nanoparticles laced with polymers that promises to deliver potent antibiotics directly to bacteria.
- Smartphone Turned Into Glucose Monitor
Medical researchers have started an outpatient trial on a medical device built by reconfiguring a smartphone that will allow patients with type 1 diabetes to more easily monitor their condition.
- Device Detects Cancer Early
Purdue researchers have developed a biosensor that could detect cancer early and design personalized medicine based on a patient's specific biochemistry.
- Medical Device Injects Drugs Through Skin
Technology in "Star Trek" seems to become reality all the time. Cell phones -- what Captain Kirk would call a "communicator" -- are commonplace. Now, thanks to scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), we have what Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy would call a "hypospray."
Company News and Notes
PSI will be attending the World Polymer Congress at Virginia Tech June 24-29. This event is hosted by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). We are very excited that such a big chemistry community event is happening in our backyard! During the weeklong Congress PSI will be participating in a number of ways. Our team members will be attending portions of the technical program, and we are an exhibitor (Booth 123). We will also be hosting lunch and lab tours for Industry Professionals and will host a special evening event for Industry Professionals. Students and others who are interested in joining the PSI team should submit resumes while at the Congress. We hope to see you there. Come visit us at Booth 123!
PSI Team News
PSI is sad to say "farewell" to Caleb Rancourt, who served as PSI's Business Intelligence Specialist and Marketing Manager from December 2010 until May 2012. His love for design and creative solutions were huge assets to PSI. Caleb is pursuing his passion for design in the Industrial Design program at Virginia Tech. He will be missed at PSI, but his contributions to the culture and branding of PSI will certainly outlast his tenure.
Caitlyn Scaggs has joined the PSI team as the new Marketing Manager. Caitlyn brings strong people skills and organizational skills to the position. These strengths were developed through her previous experience as a police officer and experiences working within Human Resources and Quality Systems. Caitlyn earned her Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Radford University.
PSI welcomes Casey Knott as the newest Lab Technician within the Chromatography Laboratories. Her extreme attention to detail and organization make her a very well-received addition to the team! Casey comes to us from Sweetbriar College, where she earned her Bachelors in Biology. Outside of work Casey loves to spend time with horses.
Kimberly O'Farrall joined the PSI team the end of March. She will have a duel role as a Thermal Lab Technician and Quality Support Specialist. Kimberly loves the outdoors, especially hiking and fishing. She's also a photography enthusiast. Kimberly's easy-going nature and hardworking disposition have helped her fit right in with the PSI family.
PSI is excited to announce the recent purchase of a SEM/EDS (Scanning Electron Microscope-Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy). This piece of equipment will enhance PSI's in-house testing capabilities.
PSI is accepting resumes for a Project Manager and for a Gas Chromatography Laboratory Manager. These positions require a graduate degree or equivalent experience. PSI is especially interested in candidates with industrial experience.
On June 22, Sam Correll, an ACS Senior Technician, will be camping out at the Giles County Relay for Life. This is Sam's fifth year participating with her team, "The Cure Chasers." The Cure Chasers just finished completing a Poker Run fundraiser and are well on their way to meeting their fundraising goal of $5,000!
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Polymer Solutions News is a monthly publication of Polymer Solutions Incorporated, an independent laboratory and a strategic global resource for chemical analysis, physical testing, research and development services, and litigation services. Please email us with any corrections, comments, reprint requests, suggestions for stories, requests for quotes, or other feedback.