Dow Chemical commits $250 million to leading U.S. universities’ chemical engineering, research and development programs

ACC member Dow Chemical Co. has committed $250 million to support chemical engineering and other scientific programs at eleven U.S. universities over the next ten years, Kevin Helliker reported in the Wall Street Journal this morning.

Dow CEO Andrew N. Liveris announced the program in New York City earlier this month, saying the initiative will encourage more young people in the U.S. to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as “capture innovative technology on exclusive terms” with cutting-edge research in catalysis, energy, electronics and transportation.

According to a company press release, Dow identified the eleven schools by their “excellence in science and engineering education, research and willingness to collaborate with industry.” The $250 million will be shared among the California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern, Pennsylvania State, the University of California’s Berkeley and Santa Barbara campuses, and the Universities of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Said Dr. William F. Banholzer, PhD., Chief Technology Officer at Dow:

This unique and industry-leading investment will support breakthrough technologies and increase collaboration between Dow and key universities, while helping to develop America’s future pipeline of PhD-level talent. It is vital that we support academic research to ensure universities can continue the tradition of excellence in chemical engineering, chemistry and materials science to help address the needs of the industry and of our country.

Last August, a coalition of 45 industry leaders, many from the chemical industry, announced they would help tackle America’s growing education crisis by offering twice as many engineering internships in 2012 as they did in 2011.

Click here to read the WSJ article.

Gift Props Up Chemical Engineering

The Wall Street Journal

Dow Chemical Co. will pour $250 million mostly into chemical-engineering programs at 11 U.S. universities over the next decade to help attract top students who are increasingly tempted by research-and-employment opportunities in other engineering specialties.

The donation will fund faculty positions and research projects for doctoral students that could boost by several dozen the number of doctorates awarded each year in an academic field that hasn’t kept up with engineering in general and biomedical engineering in particular.

“It’s a game changer,” said Frank Bates, head of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota, one of the recipients.

Engineering schools are in such demand because they bestow degrees for a range of red-hot industries, including energy, biomedicine and technology. The number of doctorates awarded in engineering climbed 50% to about 9,000 over the decade ended in 2010—a number that falls short of satisfying demand.

The number of chemical-engineering Ph.D.s rose 40% to 905 over that time, while the number of doctoral degrees issued in biomedical engineering soared to 733 from 219, according to the American Society for Engineering Education. Undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering remained about flat during that period, at 5,948 a year, while such degrees in biomedical engineering more than tripled to 3,670.

To a large extent, that shift was driven by federal and private research funding that placed greater emphasis on biomedical engineering. Over nearly 30 years, for example, the nonprofit Whitaker Foundation donated $700 million to universities and medical schools “with a focus on biomedical engineering,” according to the foundation’s website.”We think the shift has gone too far,” said Theresa Kotanchek, a Dow vice president.

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