The Western Coatings Technology Center, named for the CEO of Dunn-Edwards Corp., is officially underway at California Polytechnic State University.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday to launch the new $2.5 million Cal Poly facility. The WCTC will be named for Kenneth N. Edwards, to honor his 10-year effort in helping to fund the project.
Ken Edwards (center), CEO of Dunn-Edwards Corp., joins Cal Poly faculty and students of the Polymers and Coatings Program at groundbreaking ceremonies.
The WCTC is designed to expand industry-sponsored research on campus. Students will learn and conduct real-world coatings and polymer-related research with faculty and industry mentors. The project should be complete in the fall of 2013.
The WCTC will be housed in the larger Center for Science and Mathematics, a 200,000-square-foot facility for science instruction and research.
Although the Center for Science is a publicly funded part of the university, the WCTC's facilities and equipment will be funded entirely by private donations.
The Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center will be on the right side of Cal Poly's new Center for Science and Mathematics, as pictured in an architectural rendering.
"Ken has been tireless in his role to get the project funded," said Phil Bailey, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. "As chair of the WCTC fund-raising campaign for the past decade, he was instrumental in helping us secure the private individual and corporate donations that made our dream a reality."
Edwards made a significant personal pledge and helped secure substantial commitments from Dunn-Edwards Corp., Behr Process Corp., The Sherwin Williams Co., Masco Corp., and California Paint and Coatings, Bailey said.
Edwards and his company have been longtime supporters of Cal Poly. He has been involved with the university's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and its coatings and polymers program for more than 25 years. Edwards also provided the lead gift to establish the Arthur C. Edwards Endowed Chair for Coatings Technology and Ecology, named in honor of his father, co-founder of the Dunn-Edwards Corp.
The department offers an undergraduate degree program with a concentration in coatings science and polymers, as well as an industry-focused master's degree in the same area.
Cal Poly students have participated in summer internship programs at Dunn-Edwards and other coatings and coatings-related corporations for 18 years, and many have gone on to establish successful careers in the industry.
Edwards praises the department's research and development, which he said benefits the entire industry. "I'm so impressed by the quality of the students, the faculty, and the hands-on training," he said. "Cal Poly is the only university in the West where students can receive such a concentrated education in coatings and polymers."
The WCTC will be the first of its kind on the West Coast, according to Dunn-Edwards. Research facilities will include a polymer synthesis laboratory, instrumental analysis center, project research laboratories, and the Dunn-Edwards Coatings Formulation Laboratory, named for both Kenneth Edwards and the Dunn-Edwards Corp.