NDSU started offering coatings courses in 1906. It was the first university in the world to do so. Today, the Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials is the only formal department in the United States, and enjoys an international reputation. Faculty, staff, and students interact frequently with people from leading companies and universities, both in this country and abroad. People from all over the world, including Asia, Europe, Australia, and South and Central Americas have enrolled in NDSU courses and seminars relating to Coatings and Polymeric Materials chemistry.
What are coatings and polymeric materials? They are more commonly referred to as plastics, paints, or other man-made materials that serve us every day. Everybody is familiar with the many ways plastics are used--from unbreakable dishes to unbreakable lenses to medical implants and other devices. Coatings, or paints, are almost taken for granted, but from an economic standpoint, they are an important part of our lives. They are used to decorate and protect cars, bridges, houses, furniture, pop cans, and most other manufactured items. In the accelerating high tech fields, coatings play a key role in magnetic tapes and disks, fiber optics, biotechnology, and in very light, strong parts for aircraft, space suites and space vehicles.
Demand for coatings scientists at all degree levels exceeds the supply, and NDSU graduates are especially sought after by the coatings industry.
Coatings and Polymeric Materials’ alumni are now employed in professional and managerial positions at most of the major coatings producers and many other companies which produce or use polymers including, pharmaceutical companies.
Demand for polymer chemists with thin film training is increasing rapidly. The automotive industry and its suppliers need more polymer chemists to respond to pressures for improved performance and reduced environmental impact.
Producers of electronics, computers, electric insulators, communication and aerospace equipment, and packaging materials have all become heavily involved in coatings science. The NDSU Job Placement Office hosts numerous visits of coatings/chemical companies which recruit CPM graduates.
Students who want to work in these fields can graduate from NDSU with a minor in Coatings and Polymeric Materials. These graduates have an outstanding track record when it comes to getting excellent jobs right out of college, or may continue in graduate school. At the same time, top students also benefit from financial assistance through a prestigious Coatings and Polymeric Materials Chemistry Corporate Scholarship program.
What is the Job Market for CPM Graduates?
Today there is a growing shortage of polymer chemists who specialize in polymers for coatings. Although Coatings and Polymeric Materials alumni from NDSU are employed by most major coatings, chemical, and petroleum companies, and many have attained upper management positions, there are numerous opportunities in biotechnology, the automotive industry, electronics, pharmacology and others. NDSU graduates frequently are hired as technical service people, process engineers, or in research and development. Many have continued their education in some of the best graduate programs in the country.
Neil Thomas of Wahpeton, ND who graduated in mechanical engineering with the CPM Option*, said of his job offer with 3M Company: There were 100 applicants from around the nation for this job, and mine was the only one with a Coatings and Polymeric Materials option, so I was the first...and the last...to be interviewed.
*We no longer offer the CPM option to only chemistry and mechanical engineering majors. The department has since changed the "Option" to a minor available to any undergraduate major.