Universities Benefit From PPG Funding
Two universities are getting a boost for research development thanks to investments from coatings giant PPG.
The PPG Industries Foundation has given $103,000 to the University of Pittsburgh for engineering and chemistry programs, while it has given $120,000 to the Pennsylvania State University's Materials Research Institute (MRI) Assistantship Program and for additional programming.
The organization—which is part of PPG Industries—and the universities, all based in Pennsylvania, will work together to help promote the scientific process, PPG said in an Aug. 11 statement about the Pitt grants.
“Students participating in these programs will learn how to combine scientific learning and research with practical communication skills, which better prepares them for future professional opportunities in science and engineering fields,” said Sue Sloan, the executive director of the PPG Industries Foundation, about the Pitt grants.
Grants for Material Science at Penn State
This was the third year PPG gave money to Penn State's MRI program, which encompasses 15 departments and five colleges at Penn State.
“PPG Industries values Penn State’s MRI programs because they help prepare students for careers in fields related to PPG’s business, such as coatings research and development,” said Sloan in an Aug. 12 statement.
For 2015, PPG was able to fund eight undergraduate students who participated in a 10-week summer program. It also gave one graduate student a full year of research.
The undergraduate students conduct materials research projects under faculty supervision. They then summarize their research in a poster that corresponds with the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates program.
Students also gave 5-minute presentation's at the PPG Coatings Innovation Center near Pittsburgh.
“The program offers our undergraduate students a terrific opportunity to pursue research in an area of their choosing, giving them important experience in the challenging and exciting world of materials research,” said David Fecko, MRI industry relations coordinator at Penn State, in an emailed statement.
Grants for Engineering at Pitt
The organization gave $50,000 to support 12 summer undergraduate research fellowships at the university’s Swanson School of Engineering. The fellows will work full-time with a faculty mentor on an approved research project. When complete, the fellow will present an abstract of the project for the university’s Science 2015 Student Poster Fair in October.
Meanwhile, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering also received a $50,000 grant from the foundation, according to the statement. That money will be used to support two PPG Industries Foundation Graduate Fellows for one year.
One of those fellows, Xiao “Sean” Ma, is working on a project involving drinking water treatment and biofoam growth on antifouling coatings. Ma is working on his project with Kyle Bibby, who is an assistant professor at the university.
The other student—Omkar Lokare—is evaluating the potential for membrane distillation for the treatment of water produced by the unconventional gas industry. Lokare is working with Radisav Vidic, who is the university’s William Keppler Whiteford Professor and is the chairman of the department.
In addition to funding the projects, the foundation said its grant will be used to enable Ma and Lokare to visit off-campus, industry-related laboratories.
Grants for Chemistry at Pitt
The final $3,000 from the foundation for Pitt went to the Department of Chemistry. It will be used to help fund the chemistry laboratory poster session. The session, held annually, allows more than 400 upper-level chemistry students to prepare posters that explain their experiments. Students are graded on how well they are able to convey their methods, according to the foundation’s statement.
Gerald D. Holder, the university's U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering, said in the statement that the PPG grants are helping the university offer its students research and enrichment opportunities.
“The fellowships and undergraduate poster session offer our students experience in conducting important research projects and then developing skills to convey their methods and findings through posters and presentations, and to professionals working in non-university environments,” said Holder.