News & Updates

Plastics, a lifelong career and passion

Glenn Beall ’57 of Libertyville fondly remembers the times he enjoyed a cup of coffee between classes at Bradley University with his friend Doug Dawson ’57 of Ocala, Fla. These meetings remain vivid to Beall not only because of the cherished memories of enjoying “the comradeship with like-minded fellow students and the long philosophical discussions that we had,” but also because they provided the impetus for his lifelong career in the plastics industry.

It was during those coffee breaks, Beall said, that Dawson “convinced me the plastics industry had great growth potential.”

Realizing the importance of plastics in today’s world and the need for engineers knowledgeable of plastics are the reasons Beall and his wife, Patsy, pledged $50,000 over five years toward the development of plastics engineering curriculum at Bradley University.

“Plastic in the United States is growing two times as fast as the gross domestic product,” said Beall. “We produce more cubic inches of plastic than cubic inches of steel.”

According to Beall, engineers need to learn how to work with plastic because it requires an entirely different process than metal. Through his contribution and the resulting development of plastics curriculum, Beall hopes future engineers from Bradley will have a better understanding of plastics material and plastics design as they embark on their career.

A native of Wyoming, Ill., Beall began his career in the plastics industry at General Electric Co., which he followed with 10 years at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago where he worked in design and development. The idea of using plastics was still new to the medical industry at that time, he said, but they were intrigued with the idea of discarding something instead of having to sterilize it to use again. From 1968 through 1993, Beall owned Glenn Beall Engineering Co. He then founded Glenn Beall Plastics Co.

About his lifelong career in the plastics industry, Beall said, “I wound up at the right place at the right time.”

The recipient of the 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award at Bradley, Beall holds 35 patents for medical devices, plastic packaging and additional products. In 1997 and 1998, he was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame and the Rotational Molding Hall of Fame, respectively. In addition, Beall is a fellow and distinguished member of the Society of Plastics Engineers and recipient of the International Education Award

Dr. Joseph Chen, chair of Bradley’s Department of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering & Technology, said, “Mr. Beall’s donation demonstrates his belief in the manufacturing engineering program at Bradley University, and his investment in the program will help to lead the program toward a higher national ranking.” The new curriculum will benefit not only Bradley and local and national companies, but prepare Bradley’s students for careers in the plastics-related field.

The plastics curriculum is being tested this spring.