When thousands of composites manufacturers, suppliers and consultants converged on the Tampa Convention Center last week for COMPOSITES+ POLYCON 2009, 31 local Boy Scouts joined them. On Saturday, January 17, these young men attended the conference and trade show as part of “Think Composites,” an outreach program for students developed by the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA). Through this program, they partially fulfilled requirements for receiving the new Composite Materials Merit Badge.
“This is the second year we’ve offered the “Think Composites” program at COMPOSITES+POLYCON and it was a perfect opportunity to expand upon the partnership we forged with the Boy Scouts of America in 2006,” says John Tickle, ACMA President. Tickle, who is also President of Strongwell Corp., Bristol, Va., is an Eagle Scout and long-time supporter of the Boy Scouts.
The primary goals of the “Think Composites” program are to introduce students to the composites industry, explain the fundamentals of the chemical processes involved, and encourage them to explore composites materials more on their own. Boy Scouts earning their Composite Materials Merit Badges gain hands-on experience working with composites, which the composites industry hopes will inspire a new generation of composites professionals. At COMPOSITES+POLYCON, the Boy Scouts toured the exhibit hall and participated in an introductory session about composites and a demonstration on laminating skateboards. Troops were then given materials and “how to” manuals to complete their own skateboards.
Industry volunteers from Owens Corning, Strongwell, Composites One, Empire Fiberglass, Hexion, Goodrich and Syrgis teamed up to present this year’s “Think Composites” program to Boy Scouts at COMPOSITES+POLYCON. Strongwell provided funding and Owens Corning provided materials for the program at this year’s show.
For more information on the Boy Scouts’ Composites Materials Merit Badge, visit www.acmanet.org. COMPOSITES + POLYCON is ACMA’s annual conference and trade show, the largest in North America.