Preparing For The Future

This guest editorial is by Sunil Kumar, president and CEO of International Specialty Products and vice chair of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) America International Group. The global economy is fueled by the chemical industry: Talented chemists and chemical engineers across the globe are responsible for producing the materials on which society depends every day. The chemical industry provides nearly 1 million direct jobs to the nation and is one of the U.S.’s top three exporting industries. The continued health of our industry requires the infusion of young, motivated, educated scientists and engineers. Few students get to experience the chemical industry as part of their education. Understandably, students are far more familiar with the halls of academia than they are with the industrial lab or chemical plant. SCI America is offering an opportunity for highly qualified undergraduate chemistry and chemical engineering majors to fill this gap. In collaboration with the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), SCI is proud to sponsor the SCI Scholars program, a new opportunity for undergraduate chemistry and chemical engineering majors to gain valuable experience in an industrial setting. Approximately 20 undergraduates will be selected for internships next summer. This innovative program will better position these students to make informed decisions about their career options by providing them with real-world experience. The SCI Scholars program is aimed at high-achieving chemistry and chemical engineering students, who may participate as early as the end of their sophomore year—early enough to impact career decisions and increase the likelihood they will share the experience with classmates. Another unique aspect of the program is teacher recognition, where awards will be made to high school chemistry teachers nominated by the SCI Scholars. These awards acknowledge the pivotal role of high school chemistry teachers in preparing and inspiring the next generation of chemists and chemical engineers. The new program is a logical extension of SCI’s mission. SCI was founded in London in 1881; the American Section was founded 13 years later in 1894, and today its membership includes more than 40 of the country’s largest chemical companies. SCI America’s primary objectives are to “recognize achievement” and “to promote the application of science for the benefit of society.” Both ACS and the broader SCI organization support the chemical enterprise and those working in related sciences on a global platform. ACS and SCI recognize that there are many significant issues with societal and global impact that are subject to chemistry-based solutions. ACS and SCI have already joined forces to address these issues through their collaborative alliance known as Global Innovation Imperatives (Gii). The mission of this activity is “to create community and knowledge transfer to stimulate global scientific innovations that meet societal imperatives.” The SCI Scholars program is designed to accomplish several goals:
  • Offer undergraduates the opportunity to participate in industrial research and learn about manufacturing operations.
  • Introduce undergraduate chemistry and chemical engineering majors to careers in the chemical industry to help inform their career decisions.
  • Recognize excellence in high school chemistry teaching.
ACS is managing the program for SCI, and online applications are being accepted through Jan. 15, 2010. Creating this program is a wonderful example of cooperation among SCI, ACS, and AIChE. The professional societies will leverage their existing networks to promote this opportunity to qualified students, who will benefit from the industrial experience offered by SCI member companies. Details of the program can be found on page 48. Preparing future chemists and chemical engineers is the shared responsibility of academia, industry, and professional societies. The SCI Scholars program is just one example of collaboration designed to enhance the undergraduate experience and better prepare students for a lifetime of contributions to the chemical sciences and society. Sunil Kumar

Author: Rachel Pepling

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