NSF funds Clemson model

August 26, 2004

CLEMSON -- Chemistry faculty and students at Clemson University will join industry leaders in pioneering a program to close a college-career gap.

The one-year program, career success for science and engineering, is one of six proposals accepted by the National Science Foundation Discovery Corps Fellowship Program, a pilot project that supports new and promising educational models.

"Professionals in industry often say that students graduating from engineering and science colleges around the country should have a better appreciation for industrial practices and procedures," said Tom Keinath, dean of the College of Engineering and Science. "This program addresses these specific desires, thereby helping bridge academia and industry."

In the one-year program, students, faculty and industry leaders will collaborate to provide undergraduates with tools to view their research through an industrial lens.

"When students leave universities, many have rarely worked on teams, have difficulties adapting academic skills to problem solving, struggle with the pace of industry and have never experienced performance reviews," said Clemson lecturer Earl Wagener. "These new dynamics tend to knock them off balance, and many struggle to adapt to their new environment. This is simply the result of the different missions and methods of the academic and industrial worlds." Participants in the NSF-funded program will develop team-building skills, take the Myers-Brigg personality test, learn how to lead and prioritize projects, present their work in 15 minutes, complain effectively and examine their research for marketability.

"I'm delighted that the National Science Foundation has chosen Clemson to pilot the Discovery Corps Research program. Involving both students and faculty -- using their own research to understand science career opportunities in industry -- is unique," said chemistry department head Luis Echegoyen. "Our faculty worked closely with Dr. Wagener to design the program, which could qualify as a national model and further enhance Clemson's reputation as an innovator for student and faculty learning."

Wagener, a 1967 Clemson graduate in physical organic chemistry, spent 36 years leading research and development activities with Dow Chemical, Stepan Company and Tetramer Technologies, LLC. In that time, he's guided 1,000 university graduates in their transition from academia to industry, where he watched them stumble into the same problems.

The Discovery Corps Fellowship invests in programs that creatively encourage industry leaders to serve society as a whole. At Clemson, the $85,000 grant will help give students an insight into the school-to-work transition. Other pilot projects will take place at Texas Tech University, Loyola University, the University of Kentucky, Cornell University and the University of Colorado.

Clemson University

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