Posted in: Industry News

PCI® Scholarship Winners - The Next Generation of Technology

Posted on Wednesday, October 1, 2014

If you recall, I made a pitch back in the winter 2012-2013 issue of Powder Coated Tough magazine for us veteran powder folks to inspire youthful energy back into our industry and technology. The title of my missive was “Talkin’ ’bout My GGGeneration,” and I lamented on how our fair industry was becoming a bunch of old farts. I mused about the boundless energy and reckless abandon we had back in our twenties and how there is an obvious dearth of younger minds entering the powder coating field as a career.

At that juncture I informed our dear readers that I had embarked upon an initiative to establish a scholarship program to inspire and reward university students who expressed a hankering for powder coating technology. Consequently, we assembled some key leaders in our industry and formulated a program to access the schools that teach powder coating technology. A sub-committee was formed specifically to build the program, inform the appropriate professors, solicit students and establish a system to evaluate and award the scholarships. Another objective was to help establish and foster university coating program curriculums that offer relevant powder technology modules.

I can report that our efforts were strongly supported by the Powder Coating Institute’s avid executive director, Dave Lurie, and the PCI® Board of Directors. Many thanks also to our sub-committee members, Mark Bamford, Debbie Perkins and Jeff Hale.

As a result of these combined efforts, I am proud to declare that we were able to award the first PCI® Scholarships at the 2014 Powder Coating Show in Indianapolis. It was my privilege to hand the top PCI® Scholarship Winners: The Next Generation of Technology Kevin Biller award to Subadhra Janardhanan for her studies in The Synthesis of Novel Powder Coating Resins for Heat-Sensitive Substrates. Suba is a Ph.D. candidate in Polymer Engineering at the University of Akron under the tutelage of Dr. Mark Soucek. Suba’s parents were both present for the award ceremony.

Suba expressed her aspirations and goals quite uniquely. As a youngster, one of her teachers asked her to set three goals that she could accomplish in five years. Suba embraced this idea committing to lofty academic, extra-curricular and “fun” (recreational) goals. Her first set of goals were achieved within the next five years and include excelling at her crucial 10th grade exams, learning and performing classical Indian dance and playing on a state championship ladies basketball team.

She tells us that her current career-based goal is to successfully complete her Ph.D. program with some valuable publications, internship experiences and professional acquaintances. She explains, “Being in the powder coatings field of research has me closely associated with industrial requirements and gives me a sense of customer expectations. I would like to be able to come up with breakthrough products with superior performance that will be useful for many applications.”

She goes on to explain that coming from the world’s second most populated country, she was exposed early to the competitive world. “I had to compete with about 800 students from the same grade just from my school, every year. Survival of the fittest was my motto. I saw the doors and opportunities that a good education can open up, but I had to earn it and win over thousands of other students aspiring to attain similar goals.”

Going from high school to college was an important experience in her life. “I contended against over a million students purely based on my academic standing and successfully joined one of the prestigious universities in my state,” she explains.

During her undergraduate days, she says interacted with people from different cultures, with different dreams and different walks of life. “Though I enjoyed learning different concepts and basics of chemical engineering, I always wanted to witness things I studied in the real world. It wasn’t very common for undergraduate students in my country to indulge in research or internships. I wanted to break that tradition and took the initiative to make use of all my semester breaks to visit several industries. I spent time learning about their processes and what I would need as an engineer to be useful in their world. I understood that there were a lot of problems in industries that needed to be solved and research was the way to go,” she says.

We are thrilled that Suba has shown a keen interest in pursuing a career in powder coating technology and are here to support her personal development and professional advancement.

Two other students were also awarded PCI® Scholarships this year. Junren Lin and Casey Orgon, both graduate students in North Dakota State University’s Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials, are working on a joint project with Valspar’s powder coating division. Their research centers on prolonging the corrosion resistance of powder coatings through the use of metal rich primers. The powder coatings will be formulated and prepared by Valspar’s powder coating development laboratory. Under the guidance of Dr. Dante Bacchotti Ms. Lin and Mr. Orgon will be employing traditional polymer characterization methods and advanced electrochemical techniques to predict optimal corrosion resistance. Improving the corrosion resistance and durability of powder coatings will lead to wider commercial acceptance in the industrial coatings industry.

I am very pleased that we have arrived at the point of implementing the PCI® Scholarship program. Thanks to everyone involved. Our work is not finished, however. We need to continue raising awareness of the program and the funds to support this initiative. The PCI® Materials Technology Committee met at the 2014 Powder Coating Show this past month and brainstormed on how to advance this vital cause. We will be exploring unique and creative ways to keep this program alive and growing. Your ideas and participation are most welcome.