BCC Professor Vicki Flaris Elected President of the Society for Plastics Engineers

Bronx, NY – Bronx Community College Chemistry Professor Dr. Vicki Flaris has been elected as the new President of the Society for Plastics Engineers (SPE). Dr. Flaris officially took over in early May.

SPE is a global association with approximately 20,000 members in over 70 countries.

The incoming SPE President Dr. Flaris will run the society with the operating plan and committees she has set within the association’s 2007 plan. She says she will have to travel a fair amount in her new job.

What is the impact of SPE in the Chemical World.? “The Society of Plastics Engineers is the only Society in the Plastics Industry which is member based and which provides education and knowledge of plastics & polymers worldwide, networking opportunities beyond your geographic borders,” states Dr. Flaris.

Flaris is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Bronx Community College of The City University of New York. Her expertise is on blends and alloys. Currently, she is focusing on environmentally friendly membranes. Dr. Flaris has over 15 years industrial experience, on projects such as developing the first polypropylene based bumper, the X-box etc.

“I have gained a number of years of industrial experience whilst keeping in touch with academia by concurrently supervising students in their graduate programs at universities in and outside the USA (U.K., Greece, and Canada). My undergraduate degree involved four years of Organic, Physical and Inorganic Chemistry with the Chemistry Department. Organic Chemistry, macromolecular synthesis and characterization techniques were a large component of my thesis.

Her experience in industry gives Professor Flaris a practical approach to teaching. She has worked at BASF Corporation, Huntsman, Corporation, Du Pont Canada Pty. Ltd., ICI Australia Pty. Ltd., CSR Ltd. Distillery.

While studying science at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia, Vicki Flaris obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Dual major- English Literature and Theatre – Shakespeare and Greek Tragedy). Her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering was earned at the University of Melbourne (Partly Applied Physics Dept., University of Duisburg/Mainz, Germany) 1989-1993. Dr. Flaris wrote her doctoral thesis on “Improving the Impact Toughness of Polypropylene at Low Temperatures.” Dr. Flaris also speaks Modern Greek, German and French.

Her research interests include the development of novel techniques for evaluating critical membrance properties, such as pore size distribution, surface porosity and then using this information to synthesize new surfaces for culturing adherent cells. One potential application is in the biomedical field.

She has taught Chemical Engineering Fundamentals at Queen’s University in Australia. Professor Flaris has taken a number of instructional courses on subjects such as lecturing/presenting strategies, problem-based learning, discussion strategies, and case studies.

Dr. Flaris’ work with the SPE organization has already resulted in an important benefit for BCC’s Chemistry Department. An Indian manufacturer, Boolani Engineering Corporation in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), donated a $250,000 plastics extruder which blends and compounds different plastics and additives together to formulate new polymers for use by students in BCC’s Chemistry laboratory. Her talks with the head of the company that donated the Extruder have also led to joint talks for the company and Bronx Community College to partner on future projects.

Other benefits to Bronx Community College for Dr. Flaris being President of the SPE Association? “The Society of Plastic Engineers New York section is giving BCC this year $700 for student travel to conferences as well as to SPE headquarters in CT and another $500 for our students on campus projects. Also the SPE Association provides speakers for presentations, summer internships, announcements in their newsletter for BCC events, career days etc” added Dr. Flaris.

Originally from Australia, Dr. Flaris came to BCC 3 1/2 years ago. “I have gained a number of years of industrial experience whilst keeping in touch with academia by concurrently supervising students in their graduate programs at universities in and outside the USA also the United Kingdom, Greece, Canada.

“My philosophy in teaching is to address my audience at the appropriate level of understanding, to encourage student-teacher contact, to encourage active learning, to give prompt feedback, to emphasize time on task, to communicate high expectations, and to respect diverse talents and ways of learning. It is important to structure the process of the lecture, summarize objectives, display material in a pattern, reinforce concepts, make connections with other parts of the course and real-life examples get students to actively participate in various groups, check up on learning through questions,” she emphasizes.

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Bronx Community College (BCC) of The City University of New York celebrates its 50th anniversary of service to students in New York City in 2007. Over the past five years, enrollment has increased 20 per cent to an 8,900 student body, reflecting the reliance of the surrounding communities on it as a pathway to a better life.

BCC students from over 109 nations receive an excellent preparation to go on to four—year colleges or to advance into successful vocational careers. Programs offered at BCC include Digital Arts, Computer Information Systems, Education Associate, Nursing, Nuclear Medicine Technology, RadiologicTechnology, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Marketing, Accounting, Human Services, Media Technology and Paralegal Studies.

The College is home to initiatives not commonly associated with two—year institutions, such as the Center for Sustainable Energy, which promotes the use of renewable and efficient energy technologies in urban communities. The National Center for Educational Alliances (NCEA) is currently collaborating with South African Further Education and Training Colleges and universities to create linkages between these institutions. NCEA also coordinates the College’s international initiatives and the annual International Education Week

The Center has also facilitated a campus—wide effort to create BCC’s Center for Tolerance and Understanding. The Center for Teaching Excellence offers faculty development to promote student achievement and to stimulate discussions to keep the teaching and learning process vital and dynamic.
Take a look at BCC’s website at www.bcc.cuny.edu