Coatings and Polymeric Materials: An exciting field of discovery

NDSU’s Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials offers students a learning experience filled with discovery, hands-on research and a wealth of career opportunities.

NDSU researchers have been working with paints and coatings for more than a century – their efforts began back in 1906. Through the decades, the department has established a national and international reputation for excellence.

Just ask Kristen Patnode, who graduated recently with a master’s degree.

“This is an exciting time to be a part of the polymers field as more and more efforts focus on the advancement of bio-based products,” said Patnode, who is from Maple Grove, Minnesota. “I am passionate about the challenge of synthesizing environmentally-friendly materials that compete with the synthetic products currently found in many commercial applications.”

During her studies, Patnode participated in leading research to develop bio-based food packaging materials. Following graduation, she’s accepted employment as a polymer chemist in research and development.

“One of my favorite things about the program is how much exposure students get to the industry, whether it be through guest lectures, industry-funded collaborations or conferences,” she said. “Students hear from experienced professionals, establish relationships between the research we perform here at NDSU and industrial advances, and network with professionals in the field.”

NDSU’s Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials is among only a handful of programs in the country that specializes in coatings technology.

Undergraduate students have access to Coatings and Polymeric Materials through the accelerated BS/MS degree program. The accelerated track lets undergraduates enroll in the master’s program early and allows 15 graduate-level credits toward the bachelor’s degree. Students can complete the accelerated program in as little as five years.

Students are accepted into the accelerated program from a variety of backgrounds and majors, including chemistry, materials science, engineering, physics and many more. Undergraduate students must submit and declaration form and apply for admission to enter the Coatings and Polymeric Materials master’s program.

The department also offers separate master’s and doctoral degrees, and an undergraduate minor.

“The department enjoys a reputation of producing graduates who are highly educated in both the fundamental and practical aspects of paints, coatings, and polymers. Because of this, they are able to start making immediate contributions upon employment,” said Dean Webster, professor and department chair. “Our students are highly recruited by industry and usually have jobs lined up before they graduate.”

Doctoral candidate Jackson Benda attests with the quality of the education he’s received. After earning his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2016 at NDSU, he moved into the field of coatings and polymeric materials.

“The vast amount of information, coupled with the multidisciplinary nature of the program, with contributions from chemistry, biology, physics and several engineering disciplines, is what makes this area of study special to me,” he said, noting he is involved in a project funded by the Office of Naval Research to develop novel, non-toxic coatings to protect vessels from bio-fouling.

“We are globally known. There are not many universities that can say the same, which I believe makes us a desirable department to work with on many different collaborations,” said Benda, who is from Cold Spring, Minnesota. “Many companies recognize NDSU’s highly-skilled Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials and often seek candidates from our program for employment.”

Start your path of discovery. Apply to NDSU today.