The University of Akron is taking a new approach to plastics education.
Akron, Ohio-based UA just launched a new professional master's degree that blends coursework across polymer science and engineering with classes in business and law. Graduates of this program will possess the skills needed for careers in polymer-related industries, officials said in a Sept. 1 news release.
UA's new Master of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering program “will provide the type of graduates that industry tells us are needed beyond the research lab — professionals with the skills to be team leaders, managers and supervisors who make technology-mindful decisions,” said Eric Amis, dean of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering.
Ohio's polymer industry — with more than $5.5 billion in sales — is a substantial employer in the state, and the highest concentration of those jobs is in the Akron-Cleveland area, officials said. Nationwide, the plastics industry employs nearly 900,000.
UA is home to the nation's largest and broadest polymer program, and is located in the heart of the polymer industry in the United States, officials added, making it well-positioned to offer this new master's degree. Graduates will also have prospects outside the polymer industry in such areas as technology investment, sales, marketing and consulting.
Applicants for the new master's degree must have a bachelor's degree in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) discipline. The new program will begin in spring 2017. More information is available online at Master of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering.
In June, UA hosted almost 600 polymer researchers from almost 80 colleges and universities at the 12th National Graduate Research Polymer Conference. The biannual conference — which is held at different locations around the country — is considered a showcase event for polymer research.
Polymer research work being done at Akron is focused on both new and existing materials, including cross-linked nanotech additives, new fillers for improved aesthetics and new biomaterials and substrates for use in tissue engineering and biomedical applications.
Several plastics-related firms — including A. Schulman, Eastman Chemical, Lubrizol, Omnova, BASF, Covestro and Milliken — had displays at a job fair at the conference, hoping to attract top academic talent.
UA's College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering ranks as the largest in the United States with 34 faculty members and almost 350 students in masters and PhD programs.