March 1, 2014
Writer: Brenda Pincock
Upon graduation, I was hired by a start up company that has R&D focuses in high performance polymer platforms. I work in the Reactive Technology department and develop commercial and industrial products for a variety of applications. My primary focus surrounds nonhazardous/toxic adhesives that cure in ambient conditions.
What I find most engaging are the technologies I work with in the lab. Initially, I worked with cyanoacrylate monomers (similar chemistry used in super glues) to develop and improve woodworking adhesives (I particularly enjoy these projects because woodworking is a hobby). However, the company was founded as a result of a novel, new monomer platform that had previously eluded the industry due to the difficulty in synthesizing them sustainably free of impurities at a commercial, fiscally sound, scale.
The work I do can be classified under formulation chemistry. I work primarily in the lab evaluating chemical materials with the platforms we utilize. I do this to elicit a particular property of interest: flexibility, impact resistance, toughness, weatherability, thermal/solvent resistance, controlled and mediated activation, shelf life, etc. I also characterize the polymers and evaluate the products I prepare, which has improved my training in analytical techniques (e.g., TGA, DSC, and DMA).
Working in this environment created a steep learning curve but it has been very rewarding. I often attribute this to the good study habits I learned as well as the opportunity to be a research assistant for Dr. David Collins. The additional time I spent in the lab as an undergraduate student has been a great benefit to me.
In addition to research, I have been exposed to a variety of other opportunities including sales and marketing, mechanical engineering, and technical services. Subsequently, I often travel to perform experimental on-site trials or participate in trade shows and technical conferences. I have also had the opportunity to author articles for peer-reviewed and industrial journals.