Thumbnail B.S. Plastics Engineering

Do you like materials science and design?
Degree Type Bachelor of Science
Careers and Salary Annual Employment Report
Delivery On Campus

If you are interested in an industry that has a worldwide impact – now and in the future – plastics engineering is the right fit for you. UW-Stout's Bachelor of Science degree in Plastics Engineering (PLE) will prepare you for career opportunities in:

  • Materials science
  • Product design
  • Research and development
  • Mold and/or tool design
  • Failure analysis
  • Process simulation
  • Quality sciences
  • Experimental design
  • Manufacturing

Our program is one of only two ABET-Accredited Plastics Engineering programs. We'll teach you product and mold design, materials science and advanced processing techniques. Hands-on experiences will prepare you to create biodegradable and compostable plastics. You'll be ready to develop innovations in medical, automotive and other plastic products.

Did you know:

  • Plastics only consume a fraction of the energy it takes to process metals/glasses/papers. Plastics actually help protect the earth.
  • Plastic grocery bags use less energy, fewer fossil fuels, less water, and produce less waste than paper grocery bags. Plastic bags are also recyclable at most grocery stores.
  • All plasticware (cups, spoons, forks, knives) used at the Terrace Restaurant and the Pawn Cafe in UW-Stout's Memorial Student Center are made from plastic derived from corn starch. These plastics derived from corn are also compostable!
  • Plastics researchers are working with plastics that degrade in the human body (breaking down into natural substances that your body already produces and excretes) in order to repair or replace diseased or damaged human tissue.
The Plastics Engineering program prepares pragmatic plastics engineers who will respond aggressively to the changing needs of the global marketplace. / UW-Stout

The Plastics Engineering program is a calculus-based program that progresses from solid foundations in mathematics through analysis and design. Our industry-experienced faculty has developed a math- and a science-based curriculum grounded in plastics materials science and mechanical engineering principles.

Meet our faculty:

The program emphasizes lab activities and student engineering design projects, with a particular focus on plastics materials and processing.

100% of Our Graduates are Employed or Continuing Education

Your hands-on preparation to work with plastics will give you a competitive edge, so you can help bring the region's plastics industries to the forefront of the field in the design, development, and manufacture of plastic products.

Big Idea winner, a plastics machine, to compete for state prize

The winner of UW-Stout’s Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament will compete for the $2,000 top prize in the state tournament
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Plastics engineers are in high demand. Internships or co-op jobs will get you ready to tackle global materials and processing issues as a process/project engineer, manufacturing engineer, or product design engineer. There is almost no aspect of modern life that is not dependent on plastic. It's easy to see why talented, knowledgeable, well-trained plastics engineers are in high demand. If you want to be a part of an industry that has a worldwide impact – now and in the future – plastics may be the right fit for you.

Preparing for Plastics Engineering

You must have an aptitude for science and mathematics as a foundation for success in this program. We encourage you to take as many upper-level math and science courses in high school as possible, including mathematics through algebra and trigonometry, physics and chemistry. Early development of computer skills is also very helpful.

Starting Out

The first two years of the program include English composition, communication and other general education offerings, as well as mathematics, physics and engineering fundamentals.

At the end of your sophomore and/or junior year you will complete a paid, off-campus plastics industry co-op opportunity. The average hourly wage for Plastics Engineering co-ops during the 2013-2014 academic year was $16.15/hour. Toward the end of your program, you'll integrate all your previous coursework into capstone courses involving advanced product design or independent research.

Admission Requirements

New Freshmen

  • Rank in the top 40 percent of your class (or for high schools that do not rank, earn a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale) with a minimum ACT math score of 22 (or SAT equivalent)
  • have a minimum ACT score of 22 (or SAT equivalent) with a minimum ACT math score of 22 (or SAT equivalent)

Students who do not meet one of the academic requirements above will be admitted as Pre-Engineering and may qualify for the Engineering major by completing the appropriate courses at UW-Stout.

Transfer Students

1. Both "Test A" and "Test B" below must be satisfied:

  • Test A 
    • have a minimum ACT composite score of 22 (or SAT equivalent)
    • rank in the top 40 percent of your high school graduating class (or for high schools that do not rank, earn a cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale)
  • Test B
    • have a minimum ACT math score of 22

2. You have transferred either of the following Calculus courses with a grade of "B" or better (note: a grade of "B-" is not sufficient):

  • MATH-153: Calculus I  or  MATH-156: Calculus and Analytic Geometry I

3. You have transferred the following sequence of courses with an earned cumulative GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale:

  • MATH-153: Calculus I  or  MATH-156: Calculus and Analytic Geometry I
  • MATH-154: Calculus II  or  MATH-157: Calculus and Analytic Geometry II
  • PHYS-291: Statics  or  PHYS-281: University Physics I
  • CHEM-135: College Chemistry I

If you do not meet any of the academic requirements above, but do meet the requirements for general admission to the university, you will be admitted to the university as Pre-Engineering. You may qualify for the engineering major by meeting either requirement 2 or 3 once at UW-Stout.

Objectives & Outcomes

Program Educational Objectives 

The Plastics Engineering program develops plastics engineers who are: 

  • In demand by plastics industry employers.
  • Recognized for their ability to apply engineering expertise in the plastics industry.
  • Recognized for their leadership and teamwork skills.
  • Demonstrating continued career growth and professional development. 

Student Outcomes

UW-Stout Plastics Engineering program graduates who have:

  1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
  2. an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
  3. an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
  4. an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
  5. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
  6. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
  7. an ability to communicate effectively
  8. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
  9. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
  10. a knowledge of contemporary issues
  11. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
  12. the ability to apply knowledge of the material properties of plastics to part design and processing.
Student Testimonials

Testimonials from June 2017 PLE Students

  • "The program provides a wide range of courses that are covered which will help the student in many situations during their career after graduation."
  • "We currently have two phenomenal professors who specialize in very different things: material/chemicals and processing/injection molding. Having these two minds to learn from is a huge boon to the program. The injection molding process is definitely a focus of the program, and we are well set up with the machines and professors to learn about it. We learn about so much from material chemistry to testing to drying to different processing. That's just the plastic curriculum too. We still receive so many basic engineering staples like heat transfer, fluid mechanics, lean, quality, etc. It's a well set up program."
  • "Extremely knowledgeable professors - Excellent lab activities and access - Covers a large spectrum of relevant topics."
  • "It's a very hands-on program while also covering a lot of theory."
  • "The student organization for this program, the Society of plastics engineers (SPE) does a great job helping students in this program to learn skills they will need to succeed early on/ ahead of when they will learn them in class. In addition, the program itself tries to advertise this organization, so that more students can take advantage and do better overall.
  • "The main strength of this program that I have noticed is job placement. In my two + years here I have not even heard of anyone not getting an internship or full-time job after graduation. The teachers in the program are all very knowledgeable and prepared to take the time to explain concepts that are hard to understand."
  • "The faculty is excellent in the Plastics Engineering program who truly want you to succeed. I'm glad I’ve had courses with all of them because they are all great mentors. The availability of laboratory equipment and facilities are a strength to the program. The program has a high employment percentage after graduation. The class sizes are relatively small. The professors are usually easy to contact with questions."
  • "The lab, professors, and hands-on learning. The amount of time out in the lab is very good. Same with class sizes. Each core professor also brought their own area of expertise to the table."

Testimonials from Core PLE courses

  • “Thank you for teaching me about plastics, this is the knowledge that will be very helpful in my summer internship at Sil-Pro."
    "Does a good job experiencing you in hands-on activity's in the lab to connect to what is being discussed in class."
    PLE-360 (Plastics Testing and Analysis)
  • “I could utilize these skills to prototype my own equipment, build custom fixtures, design injection molds, and assist others in design for manufacturing.”
    “Having this be a custom design provides a much better understanding than most lab situations.”
    “I had an idea as to how much engineering and skill goes into tool design and manufacturing, but never truly understood.”
    PLE-310 (Injection Molding Theory, Design and Application)
  • “The instructor is very intelligent and insightful who really likes to challenge the students but wants them to succeed at the same time.”
    PLE-410 (Capstone II: Process/Product Development)
Society of Plastics Engineers Student Chapter

UW-Stout's Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) student chapter is part of the leading technical society for the global plastics industry. It is a community of individuals involved in the technical and commercial aspects of the plastics and polymer industry. It is a place where individuals can interact, learn and develop skills to meet their personal and professional goals. This community fosters technical innovation and industry competitiveness through scientific development and commercialization.

SPE student chapter meets in the Jarvis Hall Tech Wing, Room 170 (plastics lab), one or two times a month. The SPE 2016-2017 Constitution outlines the organization's purpose and membership qualifications.

For more information email


Employers of Our Graduates

The following companies want to hire our graduates today. We have a waiting list of companies intersted in hiring UW-Stout B.S. Plastics Engineering graduates.

  • 3M
  • Andersen Corporation
  • Arburg
  • Bobcat
  • Boston-Scientific
  • Donatelle
  • Nordson Extrusion Dies Industries
  • EirMed
  • Five-Star Plastics
  • Flambeau
  • Imark Molding
  • Innovative Injection Technologies
  • Loparex
  • Medtronic
  • Moldcraft Tool & Design
  • Molex
  • Nolato Contour
  • Phillips-Medisize
  • Polaris
  • Priamus System Technologies
  • RTP Company
  • Scientific Molding Corporation
  • Sil-Pro
  • Team Vantage
  • The Madison Group
Program Sponors

The following companies have donated materials or provided research funding for the B.S. Plastics Engineering program.

  • Autodesk – provided moldflow software
  • RTP Company – donated thermoplastic resins (PP, LDPE, HDPE, PC, ABS, PC/ABS, PC/PET, PA66)
  • SABIC – donated thermoplastic resins (PC, ABS)
  • Priamus – donated multiple sensors as well as Priamus eDAQ system for process monitoring and control
  • RJG – donated many pressure/temperature sensors and 4 edarts for process monitoring and control
  • Arburg – loaned a 66T electric molding machine and integrated sprue picker from 2/2010-9/2011 and from 6/2016-present
  • Milacron – loaned a 55T electric molding machine, hopper drier, sprue picker, and hot runner controller from 9/2016-present
  • SMC – donated 2 77T Arburg injection molding machines and machined molds and sensors
  • Donatelle – donated 35T Engel injection molding machine, and machined sensors in molds
  • Innovative Injection Technologies (I2Tech) – started plastics engineering scholarship
  • Badger Meter – donated 35T and 55T Van Dorn injection molding machines
  • Flambeau – donated a 24T Boy injection molding machine
  • Phillips Medisize – machined sensors in molds
  • Nolato Contour – donated a mold
  • Nordson EDI – donated an extrusion die and lent a Haake Rheomix machine
  • iMark molding – machined a mold
  • GaMra Composites – machined an extrusion die
  • WIScale – provided a large digital scale to the program with significantly reduced price
  • WiSys Technology Foundation – provided funding for faculty research

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