Magazine article University Business

Rubber Soul: Leading Polymer Science Universities

Magazine article University Business

Rubber Soul: Leading Polymer Science Universities

Article excerpt

THINK ABOUT EVERYDAY GIZMOS LIKE CELL PHONES, I-pods, Kindles, even Cuisinarts. We take items of convenience for granted, yet without polymer science discovery and product development research, these consumer devices would not exist.

For over a century, polymer science faculty and graduate students have explored applications of a wide range of polymer materials, including nylon, neoprene, PVC, silicone, Kevlar, and even old-fashioned natural rubber. So, we offer a guided tour of today's leading polymer university programs.

Our first stop is The University of Akron (Ohio). At one time, global tire corporations like Goodyear, Firestone, and Goodrich were all headquartered in Akron, the "Rubber Capital of the World." Today, more than 130,000 Ohioans are employed by nearly 2,440 polymer-related enterprises--helping to coin Northeastern Ohio as "Polymer Valley." As far back as 1909, the university developed the first College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. Luis Proeoza, current president, says that over the last decade, the university "has evolved into a convener, developer, and anchor for clusters of innovation. We are growing a regional innovation ecosystem that involves many partners--not only from industry, business, and government, but also from academia, community groups, school systems and other stakeholders."

Our second visit takes us to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech was ranked number one in the London Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2010 Engineering and Technology category. …

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