Brian Young

Brian Young
Associate Professor of Engineering, Plastics Engineering Technology
Office Phone
Office Location
213M Burke
PENN STATE BEHREND
242 BURKE CENTER
ERIE PA 16563
Biography

Mr. Brian Young is associate professor of Plastics Engineering Technology at Penn State Behrend. He received both the B.S. in Plastics Engineering Technology 1995 and the MFGSE, Master's in Manufacturing Engineering 2005, from Penn State Behrend. Prior to his employment at Penn State Behrend he worked for Omni Plastics and as an adjunct faculty member in our plastics program from 1996-2001. Mr. Young came to Penn State Behrend with sixteen years of industry experience.

Mr. Young is a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers SPE and the American Society for Engineering Education. He was awarded the College Teaching Workshop Certificate from Penn State Behrend's Center for Teaching and Educational Technologies in 2006. Mr. Young also received the Council of Fellows Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007.


Teaching 

Courses Taught

  • Advanced Injection Molding
  • First Year Seminar
  • Internship
  • Intro to Plastic Processes
  • Intro to Plastics
  • Medical Manufacturing Methods
  • Plastics Materials and Properties
  • Plastics Processing I
  • Plastics Processing II
  • Principles of Plastics Processing Equipment

Courses and workshops taught in outreach-based instruction

  • Injection Molding Troubleshooting
  • Materials and Testing
  • Mold Maintenance Principles
  • Plastics Processing I
  • Plastics Processing II
  • RJG Master Molder I

Recipient of teaching awards

  • Recipient, Council of Fellows Excellence in Teaching Award, 2007.
  • Nominated, Council of Fellows Excellence in Teaching Award, 2006.

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy has changed slightly since my four year review in that I have made efforts to try to emphasize to the students the value of their education and that the effort they put forth in the classroom will be rewarded later in their careers. Teaching is not just about providing the students with information; it is also about showing them how to use it and how to build on it. Many students just want to complete the classes, get their degrees and move on to a job, but in order to truly educate them; they need to realize the value of what they are being taught and how it can be applied later. Trying to increase student engagement is not easy, especially in an on-line course and the success is not only based on the techniques used, but also on the maturity level of the students. The past year in teaching my on-line course, I experienced a great deal of difficulty trying to engage the freshmen who were enrolled in the course. For many of them, their maturity level and learning skills were not at a level necessary to satisfactorily learn the material and they did not have an enjoyable experience with their first on-line course. Steps have been made to better prepare incoming students in the course by offering a survey so that they can test themselves to see if they are prepared for the rigors of an on-line course and the expectations are better represented in order for them to determine if the course is the right choice for them. I do not intend to use the survey to exclude anyone from taking the course; I just want to be able to use it to let them know where they may need to apply themselves more and to warn them about how they will be expected to participate. Accurately presenting and emphasizing the expectations of the course at the outset have been very important in the student’s perceived value of the course as it is taken. The other challenge with the on-line course is to find ways to make it more ‘hands-on’. The technology in Plastics Engineering Technology (PL ET) implies ‘applied’ education. This factor has been brought up at numerous Industrial Advisory Board meetings with alumni as being one of the primary advantages of their education. By actually applying what they had learned in the classroom, they were able to retain the knowledge and be better able to apply it themselves when it was required. It is difficult, but not impossible, to institute this type of teaching in an on-line course where the student rarely, if ever, meets face-to-face with the instructor, but several exercises have been added to the course and more are being developed with the aid of an instructional designer including the possibility of creating simulation programs to allow the students to experiment with virtual lab equipment to better understand some of the theories presented in the course material.

The method I adopted just prior to my four year review of not providing the students with answers, but showing them how to find the answers has worked out better than expected. Although many students resist this method initially, the majority tends to accept this method quickly and seem to learn more efficiently. Especially in the lab sections, the students learn to evaluate problems and use their knowledge to at least try to solve problems before seeking assistance. I feel that this method has led to the students more fully learning the materials I am teaching them and better preparing them for their later coursework. I still try to bring a high level of personal energy to the coursework. If I am enthusiastic about the material, the students are more likely to follow along and pay attention to the lectures. I have employed many techniques learned at the seminar about teaching to this newer generation and continue to look for ways to better engage the students in my courses, especially in my current on-line one. I am also looking at ways to offer other courses currently taught in the PL ET program in an on-line format. On-line teaching will likely never replace traditional classroom education, but it allows us to offer our degree and courses to a larger audience and can serve to increase the technical knowledge in the industry by allowing adult learners to take courses on topics they may have forgotten or never learned. This supports the ‘lifelong learning’ idea that we try to instill in the students in engineering. The idea that your education should not stop once you get your degree is unsettling to many students who just want to be done with college and start working, but teaching them that their skills need to be constantly updated and that they need to keep up with changing technology is a very important aspect of their educations. Once the tenure process is completed, I intend to return to college to earn a Ph.D. I have been looking at colleges within driving distance to explore my options in achieving a degree in Polymer Engineering. I am concerned with the state of manufacturing in this country as well as the viability of a technology degree in years to come. I am concerned that if manufacturing continues to decline, enrollment in the plastics program may drop to a point where it is no longer desirable to continue the program. It may be necessary to offer both a PL ET degree and a Plastics Engineering degree in order to increase enrollment and provide graduates who are able to find gainful employment in the workforce in five to ten years. To attain a Ph.D., I would need to brush up on several subjects I have not used in many years. I do not feel that it is enough to just encourage the students to continue their education; I think it is necessary to show them the importance by example. Attaining a doctoral degree would increase my personal knowledge and allow me to teach a wider variety of coursework in the program, regardless of which direction the program evolves.

My teaching style has evolved and continues to evolve since the time I began teaching lecture sections as an adjunct teacher in 1998. I continue to use PowerPoint almost exclusively my lecture sections primarily to make sure I do not forget to cover an important aspect of a topic. In the past, I would take a presentation and remove some of the information in order to give the students a framework for their notes. I used to leave a lot of blanks on the framework presentations I provided the students, but I received numerous complaints that it was difficult to listen to what was being said while trying to write down a lot of notes. Now I provide students notes with very few areas that need to be filled in so they can focus on my explanations.

I also try to reinforce my teaching by providing actual industry examples that show the importance of learning the supplied information. These examples help to put the information into perspective for the students so they realize that they are not just learning information that they will be able to forget next semester. They will need to build on this information in their following semesters in the Plastics Engineering Technology (PL ET) program and into their professional careers. I also try to instill in the students some of my core values. One of these values is personal responsibility. I convey to the students that I do not assign their grades, they earn their grades. The grade is a direct result of their effort and understanding of the course material, not my personal preference. If they do not comprehend the material as I present it, it is their responsibility to come to see me after class or during office hours. This is not to say that they cannot ask questions during class, but if I do not answer their questions satisfactorily, they are responsible to let me know that they require further explanation. Another core value I try to instill is a strong work ethic. I spend substantial time in lecture preparation so that my presentations are professional in appearance, easily understood, and error free. I also devote a lot of time outside of class and during office hours working with students on advising or academic problems. This also includes many students who are not my advisees. It is important to them that I take a genuine interest in their success and spend whatever time necessary to help them through difficult situations.

I have enjoyed teaching since I began as an adjunct teaching lab courses in 1996. I gain great personal satisfaction by sharing my knowledge with students and teaching them to be effective professionals. It is always gratifying to meet up with a graduate and have them thank you for what they have been able to accomplish. I realize that in order to be truly successful at teaching, I must constantly be looking to improve my methods and course content to meet the needs of the students.


Research 

I understand the importance of performing research as it keeps me current with the latest technologies in my field. I come from a primarily injection molding background, and would normally choose this as my area for performing technical research. There are other faculty members already doing research in this area and I want to do research that will add something to the content of the program. The plastics program is evolving and that is making it difficult to focus on an area which will provide the most benefit to the program. The medical area of plastics research is an area that will allow me to utilize much of my experience as well as the technical content of the courses I teach and this is the direction in which I will focus.

The plastics program has added two new management courses to the baccalaureate degree. Recognizing the importance of the management aspect to the program, I have been conducting Benchmarking research with Diane Parente and Peter Southard in the Sam and Irene Black School of Business. This is not classical technical research, but it gives me experience in a key component of the plastics program.

The consulting work that I do also serves to keep me current with the changing technology in the plastics field. I have reduced the amount of hours I spend consulting in order to better focus on the research area. I recognize the value of consulting work, but I also realize the value of research to my position and program.

Grants for course development

Research projects completed

Date: 2007
Title: PL ET 205 Distance Learning (course development)
Funding Source:Pennsylvania Department of Labor
Amount: $50,000
Role/Contribution: Meckley, J., and Young, B. [Co-Principal Investigators]

Date: September 2006
Title: Plastics 101 (course development)
Funding Source:American Plastics Council
Amount: $26,000
Role/Contribution: J. Meckley and B. Young [Co-Principal Investigators]

Grants for equipment

Date: February 2009
Title: AGR Hand Held Thickness Probe
Funding Source: The SPE Foundation/Blow Molding Division
Amount: $4,000
Role/Contribution (of all involved): J. Meckley [Primary Contact] and Brian Young

Date: Fall 2005
Title: Thermoformer for Plastics Engineering Technology Lab
Funding Source:Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE)
Amount: $10,000 matching funds grant
Role/Contribution: B. Young [Principal Investigator]

Grants for research

Brian Young was chosen as the recipient for the 2007 Lord Corporation Engineering Research Grant and was awarded a $10,000 grant.


Service 

Organizing conferences, service on conference committees

  • Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE)
    • Poster reviewer, Student Posters for Student Activities Committee, ANTEC 2011, 2010.
    • Technical Program Chair, Special Interest Group of Plastics Educators, ANTEC 2011, 2010.

Active participation in professional and learned societies

  • Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), Northwestern Pennsylvania Section
    • Board of Directors, 2004-present.
    • Past-President, 2007-2008.
    • President, 2006-2007.
    • Vice-President, 2005-2006.
    • Membership Committee, Chair, 2005-2006.
    • Publicity Committee, Chair, 2004-2006.
  • National Society of Plastics Engineers
    • Northwest Pennsylvania Council Representative, 2009-present.
    • Technical Program Chair Committee, Member, 2008-present.
    • Student Activities Committee, Member, 2008-present.
    • Plastics Educators, Chair, Special Interest Group, 2008-2009.
    • Student Section Technical Program Chair, 2007-2008.
  • Plastics Educators, Vice-Chair, Special Interest Group, 2006-2008.

Service to educational institutions

  • Central High School, Erie, PA, 2006-08.
    • Active member of Industrial Advisory Board, attended meetings, gave advice and opinions regarding the set up of their new technology program directed at giving students a better chance to continue their education.

Contributions to the University's programs to enhance equal opportunity and cultural diversity

  • Plastics International Experience
    • Lead organizer Germany trip, October 2007.
    • Assistant organizer for Sweden/Denmark trip, November 2006.
    • Assistant organizer for France/Italy trip to EuroPlast Paris, November 2005.
    • Organizer for Germany, K-show, October 2004.
    • Accompanied students to Ireland, visiting Nypro, Molex, and Institute of Technology at Sligo, September 25-October 5, 2003.
    • Accompanied students, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Tyco AMP Shunde manufacturing facility, China, October 2002.

Assistance to student organizations

  • Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), faculty adviser, sophomore class section, 2004-present.
  • Plastics Club, faculty adviser, 2005-2006; supervised six students on trip to Thermoforming Conference, Milwaukee, WI, September 2005.

Service Statement

The area of service allows me to interact with other faculty members here at Behrend, other faculty members in the plastics field, and industry professionals with the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE). I am currently serving on a couple of committees at the college level and several smaller ones at the program level. I have had to scale back my involvement with some of the committees and currently the primary area of my involvement is with the SPE at the national level. I am the still involved with the Special interest Group for Plastics Educators, but at a reduced level of involvement. I am the SPE councilor for our local section and am on the Student Activities Committee. This allows me to remain involved with the faculty from other universities and I can better address issues that involve student interests. I also continue to serve on the Technical Program Chair Committee due to my involvement with the SIG and my strong opinions on the quality and value of the student research have been recruited for the Technical Program Chair committee at the national level also. They requested that I join their group in order to act as a voice for the students and we have implemented several suggestions in order to clarify what actually constitutes student research and what the level of quality should be for their presentations.

My desire to eventually become an ABET evaluator remains, but it has been recommended that I wait until completion of the tenure track. There are no evaluators available specifically for the plastics field and I think it would benefit our plastics program to be able to visit the other programs across the country and see how they do things. I feel this would make my program stronger and provide the faculty with a more informed outlook as to how we should present the material we are teaching. It would also greatly assist the PL ET program if the decision is made to create a Plastics Engineering degree as there are not many of these undergraduate degrees offered and it would reduce the learning curve of offering a degree in this area if we could learn from the problems encountered by others in this area.

 

Research Interests

Plastics manufacturing technologies, recycling of plastics materials, bio-composites, and biodegradable polymers

Publications

Fumed silica induces co-continuity across a wide composition range in immiscible polymer blends, Polymer - September 23, 2019

A composition-morphology map for particle-filled blends of immiscible thermoplastic polymers, Polymer - June 16, 2017

Challenges in Teaching e-Learning Courses for Plastics Engineering Technology, Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC), ANTEC 2011 - 2011

Methodology for Evaluating Warpage Sensitivity of Plastic Materials, Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) - 2010

Renewable Elastomers Based on Blends of Maleated Polypropylene and Plasticized Starch, Journal of Applied Polymer Science - January (1st Quarter/Winter), 2010

Determination of Material Property Changes Due to Combining Flow Fronts, Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) - 2009

Effect of Environmental Exposure on Materials Based on Blends of Plasticized Starch and Polypropylene, Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) - 2009

Combining Flows in Injection Molding to Produce a Unique Velocity Profile, Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) - 2008

Reaching Sustainable Research Goals Through Co-Curricular Learning: An Example in Starch Based Plastics, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2008 Conference - 2008

Combining Flows in Injection Molding to Produce a Unique Velocity Profile, Mold Making and Mold Design Newsletter (Division of Society of Plastics Engineers, Inc.) - July (3rd Quarter/Summer), 2008

Manipulating the Orientation at End of Fill, Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) - 2007

Marketing a Plastics Engineering Technology Program, Society of Engineers Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) - 2006

Artificially Balancing Geometrically Balanced Runner Systems, Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) - 2003

Education

Other, Manufacturing Engineering, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

BS, Plastics Engineering Technology, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College