Plastics Engineering Chair News

Dear UMass Lowell Plastics Community,

Robert Malloy has retired as Chair of the Plastics Engineering Department and joined the ranks of our active Emeritus Professors. As incoming Chair, I want to thank Bob for all his work and leadership. I’ve known Bob since at least 1991, having been introduced by colleagues at GE Plastics who were Lowell alums. Bob has done many remarkable things including 1) continuous, significant lab renovations and the ETIC, 2) formalizing the endowments and coop program, and 3) growing our enrollments. Bob’s leadership in the industry is well known, and it is largely because of Bob that I came to UMass Lowell in 2002.

While it is not possible to replace Bob, I believe that we are very well situated for the years ahead as plastics continue to provide technological, environmental, and economic advantages. Plastics will remain vital to our well-being across supply chains for civilian and military applications, from commodity to advanced manufacturing technology levels.

We (the Plastics Engineering Department including our community of faculty, staff, students, alums, industry, and other friends) are at a critical junction for our department. There has been and will continue to be significant changes in the faculty. We peaked at 21 faculty members in 2010. We’ve had EIGHT retirements (Nunn, Deanin, Schott, Tayebi, Orroth, Petrie, and now Malloy and Crugnola) with another four faculty members expected to retire in the next half to three years (Grossman, Huang, Lai, and Driscoll). Our enrollments have doubled in the past few years and our research productivity remains high.

We’ve been fortunate to hire Javier Vera Sorroche (from Spain by way of the University of Bradford and industry in the UK, with interests in processing and recycling). We welcome Javier to our Department and look forward to collaborating with him. In addition, the Provost has authorized us to hire two faculty members. As a top priority, I will continue to advocate for additional faculty given Plastics’ exemplary leadership in the University including the industry outreach, technology leadership, alumni/endowment, and many other areas. Hiring and faculty development are of strategic importance as we seek to hire the highest quality people in emerging areas.

I view my role as Chair as one of a servant, a facilitator to help our constituents succeed. I am openly sharing all data including budget, workloads, etc. and broadly soliciting ideas and discussion. Some of the excellent proposals being developed include new lab renovations with focus on emerging technologies, support for graduate student fellowships, curricular changes, new bylaws for our advisory board, and others. We will provide updates every few months as proposals are formally developed.

Our Department’s success is distinguished by the ongoing involvement and support of our broader community. Please provide your thoughts about our program, and we will discuss them with the faculty, students, and the industrial advisory board. If you know of ways that you can contribute, please reach out to us at This email account is shared by the administrative team, and provides a mechanism for logging and responding to department business, from student help to alumni events.

We are working with Sally Washburn in Advancement to maintain alumni relations. A couple dates to look forward to are:

  1. Plastics Engineering Golf Tournament at Connecticut National Golf Club: Friday, September 9
  2. Industrial Advisory Board Meeting: Thursday, October 20;
  3. Proposed Plastics Homecoming: Friday, October 21 (coinciding with UMass Lowell homecoming & hockey game); and
  4. SPE ANTEC in Anaheim, CA: May 8-10, 2017.

We thank you for your support and look forward to future collaborations.

Sincerely, David Kazmer