The commitment will help fund faculty positions and support doctoral research projects, potentially boosting the number of chemical engineering PhDs awarded each year by several dozen. Although the number of doctoral degrees awarded in chemical engineering rose 40 percent over the past decade, that figure lags the 50 percent increase in engineering doctorates overall and falls well short of the growth in doctorates awarded in hot fields like biomedical engineering. To a large extent, the shift toward BME was driven by federal and private research funding, including more than $700 million over thirty years from the Whitaker Foundation, which closed its doors in 2006.
The universities to benefit from the funding include 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, 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 William F. Banholzer, Dow's chief technology officer and an executive vice president at the company. "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."