Fawzi Hamad, 33
Research Scientist, Dow Inc.
Born in Alexandria, Va., Fawzi Hamad grew up in an Arabic/German household, experiencing both cultures and learning both languages.
"My father is a mechanical engineer who worked in Saudi Arabia for most of my childhood. My mother is a homemaker who raised and educated me and my two siblings," Hamad said. "Today, we are scattered around the world — my parents still living in Saudi Arabia, both my siblings working in Germany and me living together with my wife in Houston."
Hamad earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, master's degree in materials science and engineering, and a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
His interest in the materials science of polymers started his journey in the plastics industry, and it developed even greater in his first role at Dow Chemical Co. in technical service and development.
"In that position, I collaborated with customers on projects to identify new solutions improving film performance and to explore the value of newly developed polyethylene in different markets," he said. "Going to customer locations and learning about different products has taught me the importance of plastics and how it helps us keep up with the current global demands.
"With the continuous rise of world population and increase in demand for food, transportation and safety, plastics are an integral part of our society. Having the ability to influence the future through the science and research of plastics continues to excite me," he added.
Hamad has experience in quality control for Arabian Chemical Co. (Polystyrene) Ltd. in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in sales for Juffali Chemical Products in Jeddah and as a senior engineer, associate research scientist and research scientist for Dow in Lake Jackson, Texas.
"One of my notable achievements was during graduate school in which I studied the nucleation and crystallization of polypropylene under shear flow, which is relevant for fabrication of articles in the plastics industry. This work received first place in the Society of Rheology student/post-doc competition in 2015," he said.
"One of my more recent notable achievements in industry was when I investigated the influence of orientation in blown films and scalability of running on different blown film lines," he added. "I have received a Dow Excellence in Application Development award for this work."
Hamad is involved with the Society of Rheology, American Physical Society and Dow's Employee Resource Group MENA (Middle East and North Africa).
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Hamad: Diversity and inclusion can only be achieved if we remove all biases and give future generations equal opportunity. This is done through education and exposing future generations to the plastic industry at an early stage of their education. Encouraging aspiring future talent to join our industry will allow the industry to draw from larger and more diverse pools. In addition, the industry should encourage discussions around diversity and inclusion by providing the necessary platforms, for example by having resource groups within organizations, training, newsletters and workshops in industry conferences/trade shows.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Hamad: With the increasing focus on sustainability of plastics, there is a lot of exciting innovation in plastic recycling. One of the key technologies is chemical recycling that can help eliminate plastic waste from going to landfills, allowing the production of high-quality virgin plastic. Chemical recycling is especially efficient for multilayer, multicolored and multimaterial packaging that would otherwise be discarded. This technology, along with mechanical recycling, will be vital to accelerate change for a sustainable future.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Hamad: "Embrace the challenge." A life without challenges is a life without growth. It is easy to become comfortable and not stretch oneself. This, however, can lead to stagnation in life and boredom. In both my career and my personal life, I set challenging goals to continuously learn and grow as a person.