By Brittany Willes, UV+EB Technology
“Students are our future,” remarked RadTech International North America Executive Director Gary Cohen. “More than ever, now is the time to encourage students studying UV/EB technology. We’re working to build the next generation of industry leaders and supporting efforts to create new materials and processes.”
In its efforts to mold industry leaders, RadTech, with the help of UV/EB student Ozlem Kubra Akdogan, recently launched a new Student Group, with the primary mission of assisting students in the field. Whether helping students build resumes or connect with potential employers, the Student Group aims to serve as a resource for students looking to make their mark in the field.
“All the credit goes to Akdogan,” stated Cohen. The Eastern Michigan University student first caught RadTechs attention in 2016 when receiving a RadTech Student Lab Competition Award for her presentation, Investigating the performance of UV-LED source using acrylic resin as UV-curable component on different color pigments. “She made a beautiful acceptance speech at our conference awards dinner that year,” said Cohen. Akdogan again came to RadTech’s attention during a Focus Event sponsored by The Detroit Society for Coatings Technology.
“We reconnected with her at the Detroit event, and she suggested the idea of formalizing a RadTech student group. She offered to help manage our effort,” said Cohen. A formal group seemed a natural progression of RadTech’s commitment to supporting students. For many years, RadTech has offered students free membership and event attendance as a way of encouraging younger generations to continue their explorations of all the field of UV/EB has to offer. “Akdogan is helping us to catalyze, expand and promote our program,” stated Cohen. “She describes her role with the group as a way of giving back to new students entering the Eastern Michigan program.”
Akdogan isn’t the only one looking to give back and build up the next generation of UV/EB specialists. Professor Vijay Mannari, Akdogan’s adviser and longtime RadTech participant, has been instrumental in encouraging Akdogan’s efforts to set up the formalized group. According to Cohen, “Much thanks also goes to RadTech members and the RadTech board, as they have always been very accepting and supportive of students.”
In addition to free memberships and conference attendance, RadTech has made efforts over the years to attract more students to its ranks. Each year, the company hosts the Best Student Paper awards, as well as a poster competition in partnership with the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts (TAGA), where participants are asked to create a poster design to showcase the benefits of UV/EB technology and areas where UV/EB materials are used. The RadTech Student Lab video competition gives students a chance to demonstrate their use and understanding of UV/EB technology. Additionally, RadTech offered student experience scholarships, which serve to encourage interaction with RadTech members. “Each of these efforts is transitory,” said Cohen. “The student group is our first attempt to encourage sustained involvement in our group, and, hopefully, have the students themselves help set our agenda.”
As stated, the primary mission of having a formalized student group is to assist students as they pursue education and opportunities within the field. However, as Cohen explained, there also is a significant business interest for developing such a program. “Some of the world’s largest UV/EB user companies, many of them household names, attend RadTech,” he noted. “When we ask them how they learned about UV/EB, they typically respond that one of their chemists learned about our technology in school. By encouraging students, we are supporting the growth of our technology.”
While it is still in its early days, the formalized student group is “ramping up,” as Cohen stated. “Akdogan has developed a terrific student Facebook page for us. In addition, at the recent Photopolymerization 2017 Conference in Colorado, RadTech members Mike Idacavage, Darryl Boyd and David Harbourne took it upon themselves to invite students to dinner and encourage their participation in the group, informing them of the benefits of joining and explaining how the group acts as an information resource service for them.”
It is important for organizations such as RadTech to provide value to students, noted Cohen, including offering a compelling reason to join programs like the one offered through the association. “Given the current times,” he said, “our focus is on what we can do to help students build their resumes and connect with potential employers. One idea we are working on is to develop a web page of students involved with UV/EB. Not only will it show off their work, but it will be a tremendous information resource for our industry to learn about research in our technology field. It is our hope that, in turn, our members may offer internships and, ultimately, employment opportunities.”
Students looking for more information can join the Facebook page by searching for RadTech, The Association for UV&EB Technology Student Committee.