November 9-22, Rubber Division, ACS staff Heather Maimone, membership manager, and Christie Robinson, training & development director, visited Europe in an effort to increase communications with other rubber associations and companies globally, as well as to find synergies and develop partnerships/relationships with global associations and companies to grow membership, develop student chapters, expand training opportunities and increase Rubber Division, ACS visibility.
For the bulk of their European visit, Heather and Christie worked side by side with Rubber Division, ACS corporate members David Cawthra and Gail Reader from TARRC (MRB UK)/Rubber Consultants who organised a UK program that covered introductions to the Institute of Materials (IOM3), the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), The Elastomer Training Action Group (ELTAG) and several other representatives from the UK rubber industry. This joint effort with TARRC (MRB UK)/Rubber Consultants would not have been nearly as successful without their participation and assistance. The program gave these organizations the opportunity to understand Rubber Division, ACS’s plans and vision for the future. This was a welcome rare opportunity for the UK participants, providing the chance to forge closer working relationships with the largest and most well-respected association in the U.S. devoted to the rubber industry. TARRC has long-standing ties with Rubber Division, ACS, has presented papers at their technical meetings for many years and has also had a booth promoting their consultancy unit, Rubber Consultants, for the past six years at the International Elastomer Conference’s expo. TARRC engineers and technologists have been the proud recipients of eight Goodyear Medals, as well as numerous other Rubber Division, ACS awards since the late 1960s.
A meeting with ELTAG members and TARRC personnel including Dr. Stuart Cook, director of research, and Colin Robinson, business manager of Rubber Consultants, was held at TARRC’s laboratories in Brickendonbury, Hertford. Other participants included John Dorken, chair of ELTAG and chairman of the BRPPA (British Rubber and Polyurethane Products Association), Dr. Sally Beken, Knowledge Transfer Network Manager (Polymers) at the UK Government organization Innovate UK and several other industry representatives. After a presentation by Heather and Christie, which provided an overview of the work of Rubber Division, ACS, an open forum for the meeting participants took place. Topics covered included the difficulties faced by the industry in the UK and the need for more formal rubber technology training to be available. Several participants expressed their admiration for what Rubber Division, ACS has achieved for the industry in the U.S. Heather and Christie were then given a tour of TARRC’s laboratories led by Dr. Stuart Cook where they saw some of the most expansive and state-of-the-art independent rubber R&D and testing facilities in Europe. As well as the analytical and physical testing laboratories, they also got to see the biotechnology, rubber mixing and processing and tyre retreading areas and engaged with some of TARRC’s 76 scientists and technologists.
A meeting was held in Grantham at the Institute of Materials (IOM3), which is a major UK engineering institution whose activities encompass the whole materials cycle, from exploration and extraction, through characterisation, processing, forming, finishing and application. It exists to promote and develop all aspects of materials science and engineering. Elastomeric materials are covered by the Rubber in Engineering Group and The Polymer Society. IOM3 has a membership of over 17,000, and represents a combination of scientific, technical and human resources which links industry, government, education, research and the academic world. A very productive meeting was held with Kate Harrison and Dr. Diane Aston, education manager, where common themes covering membership and education were discussed. The IOM3 is interested in working with Rubber Division, ACS to put together a reciprocal member agreement that will increase the visibility of the advantages of membership, student outreach and educational training to the industry in the UK and beyond.
Rubber Division, ACS and Rubber Consultants then met with Alison Handley, membership manager at SMMT (Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders). Both organisations will collaborate together to increase visibility to both the rubber and automobile industries in the US and UK.
To wrap up their UK visit, Heather and Christie met with Professor James Busfield of Queen Mary University, who is also the Chair of The Polymer Group and Rubber in Engineering Group in London. They discussed the possibility of the formation of a student chapter in the United Kingdom or Europe. James is also a key player in the planning of IRC 2019, working closely with TARRC, ELTAG and IOM3. It was discussed that TARRC, Rubber Division, ACS and IOM3 possibly work together on the planning of the educational program at IRC 2019 in London.
When Heather and Christie travelled to the Netherlands, they met with Rafal Anyszka, R.P. (ET) with University of Twente in Netherlands to discuss the formation of a Rubber Division, ACS student chapter in Netherlands or an overall student chapter in Europe. They also visited Rubber Division, ACS corporate members at Kraton Corporation to review their member benefits.
The final leg of the European visit was to attend the 2017 International Conference “With rubber through life” in Warsaw, Poland. While there, they met with the Lodz University of Technology student chapter students and Professor Dariusz Bielinski. A plaque was presented to the student chapter and a meeting was held to review the benefits they receive as student members.
This Rubber Division, ACS visit to Europe was very successful in working towards the organization’s goals and the vision of enhancing science, technology and business across the evolving elastomeric community. Earlier in the year, staff travelled to India and China with the same goals achieved, and plans to continue international travel to extend outreach are in place.