Stringing Things Together
The Department of Chemistry will soon have two new degree offerings, a Bachelor of Science major in Polymer Chemistry and a Master of Science in Polymer Chemistry. Courses for these programs are anchored in the Department of Chemistry and the Plastics Engineering Technology program involving resources and staff from the Kansas Polymer Research Center.
“Pittsburg State is in a very unique position to offer academic programs in Polymer Chemistry due to already having the Kansas Polymers Research Center (KPRC) on our campus,” says Karl Kunkel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Given the promising future of polymer science, the relevance of this field for the Kansas economy, the lack of other polymer chemistry programs in the region, and the obvious unique link between PSU and KPRC, it makes sense to offer a bachelor’s and master’s degrees to the people of Kansas and house this program at our university.”
The suitability of PSU for this initiative was echoed by Dr. Andy Myers, director of the KPRC.
“The Kansas Polymer Research Center at Pittsburg State University is one of the world's leading centers specializing in vegetable oil-based polymer research and development,” says Myers. “KPRC scientists work with industry partners, state and federal agencies, as well as producer associations to develop and commercialize intellectual property.”
Preparing students for jobs was a major impetus for this initiative.
“The polymer and plastics industries are one of the largest employers of high tech, high value jobs for science majors,” says Bruce Dallman, dean of the College of Technology. “In fact, the American Chemical Society division of Polymer Chemistry projects 50% of all chemists work with polymers at some time in their career.”
New faculty will be hired with joint appointments in KPRC and either the Chemistry Department or the Plastics Engineering Technology program. Jointly, these existing and new assets further students’ knowledge base and experiences preparing them for meaningful and economically vital careers in the expanding field of polymers.
“Research opportunities for students are central to their career preparation and will be reflected in the proposed academic program, says Khamis Siam, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “Further, after the degree programs are established we aggressively will pursue approval from the American Chemical Society.”
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