MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


The Program in Polymer Science and Technology (PPST), is an interdepartmental graduate education program. The program provides an opportunity for students at MIT to pursue an intensive polymer-centered education that ranges from molecular to continuum concepts in both engineering and science. The program, consisting of a core curriculum and a written and oral qualifying procedure, is administered by faculty from many diverse disciplines located in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry. Although essentially an academic program, PPST also functions as a fostering community supporting polymer related activities at MIT. In this capacity, the program functions as an intellectual facilitator, bringing together polymer-interested scholars from within the MIT community and from outside academic and industrial institutions. The program also provides an opportunity to coordinate and enhance the material presented in the many different polymer subjects offered throughout the institute.

This past April, BP-Amoco Corporation supported the third PPST/BP-Amoco poster competition. More than 80 people attended this event including students, post-docs and faculty from many different departments at MIT. Posters were defended by 31 students/post-docs from four different MIT departments and $2200 in prize money was awarded at the end of the poster session. The winners this year were; "Best in Show" graduate student and post-doc, Catherine Santini (CE) and Dr. Bo Chen (DMSE); "Technical Creativity," Jung-Sheng Wu (CE) and "Contribution to Scientific Knowledge," Ariya Athakul (DMSE). Honorable mentions were also given to the following four students; Mitch Anthamatten (CE), Jonathan Hester (DMSE), Jinsang Kim (DMSE) and Jonas Mendelsohn (DMSE). The PPST seminar was judged by four BP-Amoco researchers. BP-Amoco Corporation also generously agreed to continue their support of the MIT UROP program. Rachel Sharp, a student working under the supervision of Professor Ned Thomas (DMSE), will be supported during the summer of 2000.

The PPST weekly seminar continues to attract an average of 50–80 students/faculty per seminar. This past year, stimulating lectures were presented by leading polymer faculty from a number of US and European universities as well as from within MIT. PPST seminars were also given by three MIT graduate students. Professor Paula Hammond (CE) has continued her important role of organizing the PPST seminar.

Eight new PPST students were admitted into the program from the departments of Chemical Engineering (2) and Materials Science and Engineering (6).

We have continued the implementation of our new core curriculum. In order to alleviate the problems associated with having too many subjects offered during the second semester and certain core subjects offered on an every other year basis, the faculty recently approved a modified program in which students are able to defer the taking of specific subjects until after the first year.

More information about the Program in Polymer Science and Technology can be found on the World Wide Web at

Michael Rubner

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000