SCHAUMBURG, IL-SIGMA Plastic Services Inc. has donated Sigmasoft polymer process simulation software to Penn State Erie’s School of Engineering at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, a gift valued at $3.7 million.

With this software, the campus has new technical capabilities for its soon-to-open Medical Plastics Center of Excellence and current Medical Plastics certificate program, two initiatives that address the emerging medical plastics market.

The U.S. market for medical plastics is growing at a rate of 5% to 10% annually and sales are projected to reach $6.55 billion in 2012."Thanks to SIGMA Plastic Services, our students and faculty members will be able to develop the next generation of medical devices,” says Ralph Ford, director of the School of Engineering. “This is a great partnership between academia and industry that ultimately benefits our students."

The $3.7 million gift supports Penn State Behrend's goal of raising $32 million during the University's current capital campaign, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. To date, the college has secured 81% of that goal.

Penn State Behrend's Medical Plastics Center of Excellence is an applied research and outreach center that supports companies in the development of new medical devices and packaging, technologies that could not exist without advanced plastics materials. Sigmasoft software, designed for the molding of advanced elastomer, silicone and thermoplastic materials, supports these technologies.

Students enrolled in the Plastics Engineering Technology bachelor's degree program can pursue the Medical Plastics certificate. The 14-credit certificate program prepares graduates for careers in medical product development with courses in advanced materials, new product design, manufacturing, and FDA regulatory issues. Nationwide, this is the only medical plastics certificate or degree program offered at the undergraduate level.

"Students will acquire in-depth knowledge of SIGMA products and will be better prepared to put what they have learned into practice after graduation," says James Chiamardas, president of TPStek. "This is the first gift of Sigmasoft to a college or university in the United States. We're pleased to work with Penn State Behrend on this important initiative."

James Chiamardas, a Penn State Erie plastics alumnus and Erie native, played a key role in securing the gift. Chiamardas earned his associate and bachelor's degrees in Plastics Engineering Technology. He is president of TPStek, LLC, a Sigmasoft reseller.

TPStek will provide technical support for the software, which is included in the value of the gift.

Christof Heisser, President of Sigma Plastic Services Inc. says, "We are happy to provide the School of Engineering at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, with 25 seats of Sigmasoft, thereby giving students access to state-of-the-art Polymer System Simulation. Simulation has revolutionized the manufacturing world in the last 25 years and has become an integral part of the manufacturing process. It is, therefore, essential to integrate this technology into the education of the next generation of engineers and we at SIGMA are proud that one of the leading universities in the manufacturing world has decided to work with our simulation tool."