03-14 career choices

[Image above] Credit: Paola Aguilar, Unsplash

With the approach of spring, the time draws near for students to seriously consider what they wish to do after graduation.

For those studying materials, deciding if they prefer an academic or industrial setting is a key step in plotting their career path. While some students had the fortune of conducting research within these two contexts during their education, others do not have first-hand experience to base their decision on.

Talking with working professionals is one way students can learn about these different career paths. For ACerS student members, the Student Mentor Program is an ideal way to facilitate such interactions.

Reading about the experiences of working professionals is another good option. The recent open-access paper by ACerS member Alan (Al) Weimer offers an insightful personal take on conducting research in academic and industrial settings.

Weimer is the Melvin E. and Virginia M. Clark Professor of chemical and biological engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. He previously worked as the first chemical process engineer at the Dow Chemical Company.

In his recent perspective paper, Weimer discusses his experience developing two new powder processing technologies, one at Dow and one at the University of Colorado Boulder. In both cases, the keys to success were an understanding of the scientific and engineering fundamentals, intellectual property rights to protect the risk takers, and viable market opportunities for products providing cost/performance advantages over the competition.

This personal perspective is provided “with the hope that others with similar opportunities can plod forward in the face of similar inevitable headwinds,” Weimer writes.

The open-access paper, published in Powder Technology, is “From a laboratory curiosity to a commercial powder processing plant—A personal perspective” (DOI: 10.1016/j.powtec.2023.118279).