The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Polymers and High Performance Materials has gained approval from the State Institutions of Higher Learning to offer an undergraduate degree in polymer science and engineering, the first of its kind in Mississippi. The program will begin in the fall 2012 semester.
The focus of the program is education and research in the areas of structure and processing of polymeric materials, and how these relate to properties and performance. University officials believe the new program meets a national need for graduates in this area of science.
“Our outstanding professors in the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials are ready to provide this additional wonderful opportunity for students seeking a rewarding and interesting career in the sciences,” said University President Dr. Martha Saunders.
With the establishment of the program, Southern Miss expects to benefit from enhanced student recruiting; attraction of excellent faculty; Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditation; increased funding opportunities for research; and increased interaction with industry, which can lead to relationships resulting in employment opportunities for graduates and additional funding support from the private sector for research.
“We’ve long been recognized internationally for excellence in polymer science, and already offer graduate degrees in polymer science and engineering,” said Dr. Joe Whitehead, dean of the College of Science and Technology. “So we’re well-prepared to offer a comprehensive undergraduate program in polymer science and engineering.”
The current undergraduate degree in polymer scienceincludes instruction and laboratories in structure, processing, properties and performance of polymers, composites and hybrid materials. The new program will utilize core courses currently offered in the current undergraduate degree program in polymer science, while adding the following engineering core and elective courses:
· Engineering thermodynamics
· Structure/property relationships of polymeric materials
· Polymeric nanomaterials
· A capstone course on polymer engineering design consistent with ABET guidelines for achieving accreditation.
For incoming freshmen, an ACT mathematics sub-score must be achieved to enter Calculus I in their first semester in order to complete the degree program in eight semesters. Articulation agreements are in place with the state’s community colleges for pre-engineering students at all Mississippi institutions of higher learning to transfer into the program.
“The School of Polymers and High Performance Materials looks forward to adding this new degree program to our portfolio of academic opportunities for students,” said Dr. Robert Lochhead, director of the school. "We have an outstanding faculty and research facility that are among the best in the world, and we are ready to prepare students to join the global workforce.”
For more information about the Southern Miss School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, online visit http://www.usm.edu/polymer/.