In the last two decades, there has been a shift in the U.S. academia from a focus on traditional skills of chemistry, materials science and chemical engineering toward bio-related areas. This shift can be primarily attributed to the greater availability of funding from both government and private sector.
The net impact is less research is being done in the fields that are less trendy, but key to the development of the industry as a whole, like catalysis, polymers, materials science and separations. Dow is providing resources and relevant projects for leading U.S. universities to explore traditional fields of chemistry, materials science and chemical engineering and connect to the real needs of the industry.In a contemporary accompanying Wall Street Journal article, Dow's efforts are related to the relatively slow growth of chemical engineering Ph.D. graduates:
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.I think it's terribly interesting that the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually projects a 2% drop in chemical engineering jobs between 2008 and 2018. (Materials engineers are expected to see a 9% growth in jobs over the same time period.) It will be interesting to see if Dow's graduates actually manage to find positions. If they do, I suspect that they will be well paid.
Thanks again to AF.