Chase Henry - Paving the Way for Interns at U.S. Plastic Corp.®
“Paving the Way for Interns at U.S. Plastic Corp.® ”
Chase Henry, a senior mechanical engineering major from Lititz, Pa., has an innate curiosity that has allowed him to make the connections that create extraordinary value for others. As an intern at U.S. Plastic Corp.® in Lima, Ohio, Henry has had the opportunity to draft products, present to the Company Executives, work as part of the research and development team, collaborate with multiple departments across the company, and participate in product design.
“I first heard about the internship from Dean Kales,” Henry explains. “I sent in an application and then had a pre-interview test on campus. After taking the test, I was invited back for an interview the next day.”
Kales is the KEEN industry liaison at Ohio Northern University. As part of a grant the University received from the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network, he has been hired to work with industry leaders to develop relationships and establish internships with companies that instill the entrepreneurial mindset. Through Kales’ work, U.S. Plastic Corp.® collaborated with ONU to hire Henry as its first intern.
“Last summer, I worked for Tait Towers in my hometown,” Henry says. “I worked with a team on designing and detailing for the staging and structures department, with our biggest job working on different components of Madonna’s stage for her concert tour.”
First-hand drafting experience gained through his work at Tait Towers allowed Henry to quickly work through his original task at U.S. Plastic Corp.®, drafting technical drawings of all the products manufactured on site. This task allowed Henry to look at how the competition was doing similar tasks and how the company might be able to expand upon this in the future through 3-D files.
Building on this skillset and diligently working through this task led Henry to the opportunity to become a part of the research and development team. Curious to learn that the company hadn’t been developing new products for a long time, he jumped into the task head-first.
“I didn’t know anything about rotational molding going into U.S. Plastic Corp.®, and that’s completely what I dealt with and how they produce their plastic tanks,” Henry recalls. “So I was actually very curious in the beginning, and I still am. I learned about a whole bunch of plastic processes now because of the internship and things that we don’t even do at our company. it’s helpful to know what can be done with plastic because that’s what competitors are sometimes doing to create their products that are sometimes similar to ours. The plastic molding processes are cool; there’s so much to learn.”
Henry and his team have collaborated across departments, working with finance, marketing and manufacturing, which makes the products first-hand.
“The most impactful part was talking to the guys who actually run our rotational molding machines,” Henry states. “You can take away a lot of the problems that they have by changing the design of the machine and making it a lot easier to produce products if you have a good open dialogue with these employees.”
Working with employees to find what adjustments would make their work easier and more efficient is just one of the tasks that Henry has jumped into. Opportunities to investigate the market to improve overall product development have given him the chance to look at what products are being made and to work across teams to see if these products can be designed at U.S. Plastic Corp.® in a more cost-efficient way.
“U.S. Plastic Corp.® is a catalog company, so 90 percent of what they sell is what they buy wholesale from their distributor,” Henry explains. “So what we design, a lot of times there are similar products already in the catalog. We look at those designs and what they’re already priced at, which is helpful in figuring out our cost and if we can be cost-effective in our design.”
Since starting his internship in May, Henry has given two presentations to the Company Executives and multiple presentations to the research and development team. His curiosity for product development, connections from previous products and potential products, and speaking with employees are helping him to create value through a design that helps make work easier and more efficient for employees. Through his exceptional work as an intern at U.S. Plastic Corp.® over the summer, the company expanded his internship opportunity to allow him to work part-time through the school year.
U.S. Plastic Corp.® was founded in 1956 by R. Stanley Tam and is a privately held for profit company that is owned by Stanita Foundation. Stanita Foundation provides funding for Christian missionaries in over 70 countries.
Product line of tanks designed and drawn by Chase Henry for U.S. Plastics