The world of coatings and polymers is a niche but rapidly evolving field and Eastern Michigan University’s Coatings Research Institute (CRI) has been one of the primary drivers of its evolution.
For the past 30 years, the CRI’s mission has been to be a leading academic-based organization that develops relevant scientific knowledge for understanding and for expanding the science and technology of polymers, coatings, paints, inks, adhesives, and related nano-based materials.
So far, their mission has been a success. In 1990, they were awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to build a new Industry/Research Center (I/CRC) which became the Surface Science Lab. The CRI and its labs provide a unique opportunity for students and professionals of the coatings industry to learn, research, and invent alongside one another.
CRI's Patented Success
The results of the CRI’s labor have been fruitful, John Texter, a professor of Polymers and Coatings in EMU’s School of Engineering was awarded a U.S. patent for the “Process for Nanoparticle Dispersions with Ionic Liquid-Based Stabilizers”. Vijay Mannari, also a professor of Polymers and Coatings, was awarded two U.S. patents. One for “Corrosion Resistant Coatings and methods using polyureasil” and another for “Flame Retardent Textile”.
It’s not just domestically where EMU’s Polymers and Coatings program and research is making waves either. The CRI has attracted coatings researchers from all over the world to collaborate on academic research and groundbreaking scientific exploration.
CRI + Professional Programs & Training
As just one of three institutions in the nation that offers specialized courses in polymers and coatings, EMU is truly one of the leaders in the industry. This spring, the CRI will partner with EMU's Professional Programs & Training to continue their popular short courses on a variety of polymers and coatings topics including:
- Color Technology (4/27 - 4/28)
- Basics of Paints and Coatings, Applications (Virtual) (5/10 - 5/13)
- Principles and Practices of Coatings Formulations (Virtual) (5/17 - 5/20)
- Waterborne Coatings: Technology, Formulation and Applications (Virtual) (6/7 - 6/10)
- Fundamentals of resins & Polymers for Paints and Coatings (6/14 - 6/17)
These short courses are ideal for busy coatings industry professionals, those just interested in working in the coatings industry, or someone transitioning from one technology of coatings to the other. In the past eight years over 500 participants from 29 states and five countries have benefited from this unique program.
Quick Lesson With the Professor Vijay Mannari
The instructor for four of the five above classes (S. Kendall Scott and Allen Brown will be teaching the Color Technology course), Professor Vijay Mannari, took some time in between his busy schedule of providing valuable research, creating patents, and serving as the President of the Detroit Society for Coatings Technology to talk about why these courses are so valuable for anyone interested in the polymers and coatings industry.
How long have you been teaching these professional courses?
The last 15 years! These courses have been consistently revised and refined based on developments in the field and changes in customers' needs.
Which professions are the participants of this course interested in or employed in?
These short courses, as well as our academic programs (MS and Grad Certificates), are typically targeted at people working or interested in working for paint and coating companies, user companies, or companies that supply raw materials for paints and coatings. Most students or participants start as chemists or engineers and grow into supervisors, scientists, and managers in their respective areas. The typical areas are R&D, Product Development, Tech. Support, Marketing, besides others.
What are some less common professions that would benefit from participating in these programs?
Chemical Engineers are one and we also attract people who are in technical service or sales. Selling industrial paint requires a high level of technical understanding. So, people in sales might have an MBA but they want to really understand the language of what they’re selling.
How are the job opportunities in these industries?
There are tremendous job opportunities. We are among a very few institutions that have academic programs in P&C. In fact, there are only 3-4 in the country. Our trained graduates are always in demand for paint formulation companies, raw material suppliers, and end-users such as automotive. We boast a 100% placement of our graduates within 2 3 months of their graduation.
In broad terms, what will make these courses valuable for the people attending?
For people who are experienced in the industry but may not know or understand the underlying science, these courses can bridge the gap between their experience and their knowledge. They can also serve as a refresher.
Also, some short courses are designed for new entrants to the industry so they can quickly catch up with the technology and don’t require any prior special knowledge. By spending 3-4 days in these courses they can learn so much. It's hard to learn on the job as many companies do not have structured training programs on specific topics.
Our academic program prepares them for more comprehensive education and training. Our recently launched Graduate Certificate program is fully online. This program is specifically targeted for working professionals who can learn at their own schedule in the comfort of their work or home. These academic programs can significantly enhance their career advancement opportunities.
Are there any current events or trends in the industry that make now a good time to participate in these courses?
Yes, this industry is very dynamic in the sense that there’s always something going on. For example, climate change is driving a lot of industries and similarly, in coatings and paints, we’re searching for raw materials that have less of an environmental impact.
Also, regulations and technology are always changing and thus as the instructor, we’re trying to keep our students and professional participants up to date.
Can you explain how your lessons in this course can have real-world applications?
I think all of our courses are designed to have real-world applications of the concepts and skills taught. For example, in Polymers and Resins for Paints and Coatings, participants will learn “how to interpret technical data sheets” of commercial products. Many entry-level chemists may not have this skill. In the Coating Formulation course, we discuss many real world case studies that are very relevant to their day-to-day work. So, we get a lot of feedback indicating that our short courses are directly relevant to their projects.
Professional Programs and Training is excited to continue its partnership with the CRI in offering its exceptional and unique Polymers and Coatings Short Courses. We're proud to work with these programs that have had such a notable impact on the polymers and coatings industry. We also extend a huge thank you to Professor Mannari for taking the time to discuss the courses he'll be instructing.
You can find more info such as start dates and the material taught in each course as well as register for the Polymers and Coatings Short Courses here.