Dow Chemical Co. is concerned that over the past 20 years university chemical engineering departments in the U.S. are moving towards biotechnology, rather than the traditional engineering disciplines and skills. The company points to the fact that since 1990, 37 out of 120 chemical engineering departments in the U.S. have changed their name to include 'bio' in the title of the department.
Their concern is that this trend is weakening traditional engineering disciplines. One major reason for the shift is due to greater funding resources from both government and the private sector for bio-related projects. Therefore the company had decided to increase its investment in traditional engineering education by providing $25 million per year to 11 university partners over the next 10 years.
"As a major employer of scientific and engineering talent, Dow is committed to the development of the 21st century workforce, which will work to solve society's most pressing challenges while cultivating a more competitive U.S. marketplace. Excellence in scientific education and the development of innovative solutions go hand-in-hand," said Andrew N. Liveris, CEO. "We are pleased to partner with academia to ensure that a vital pipeline of talent and research is available to fuel the discoveries and solutions of tomorrow."
The following 11 universities will benefit from the investment: The California Institute of Technology; The University of California at Santa Barbara; The University of Minnesota; The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Georgia Institute of Technology; The Pennsylvania State University; The University of Wisconsin; Northwestern University; The University of California at Berkeley; Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Michigan.
"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," said Dr. William F. Banholzer, PhD., Chief Technology Officer. "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."
In tandem with the national AMP programming, Dow also published its Dow's Advanced Manufacturing Plan for America last year aimed to rejuvenate the economic base to allow for greater competition, enhanced job creation and advances in technology. In order for the AMP to succeed, Dow believes that it can and should have a strong role in educating the 21st century workforce to create a cleaner energy future and cultivate a more competitive U.S. marketplace. To further outline those objectives, Dow released the book Make It in America: The Case for Re-Inventing the Economy, which calls for effort from both public and private enterprises to energize U.S. manufacturing.