MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


PPST, the Program in Polymer Science and Technology, 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.

The PPST weekly seminar program continues to be an active and important component of the program. This past year, attendance at the weekly seminars typically ranged from 60-80 students/faculty from many different departments at MIT. In addition, a special PPST/Amoco student poster competition was coupled to one of the seminars. The poster competition, sponsored by the Amoco Foundation, had 30 student and post-doctoral participants and was attended by about 100 people. Cash prizes totaling $2000 were awarded for "Best in Show" graduate student and post-doc, "Technical Creativity" and "Contribution to Scientific Knowledge". By all accounts, the poster competition was a great success. Amoco has already signed-up to sponsor this event in the coming year.

On the curriculum front, the PPST faculty have been working to implement new changes to the core program involving the addition of a biomaterials and a surface science subject. The surface science subject is now integrated into the program, however, students were not able to take the biomaterials subject this year due to a sabbatical problem.

In the Fall Term 97, eight new PPST students were admitted into the program from the departments of Chemical Engineering (3), Materials Science and Engineering (4) and Mechanical Engineering (1).

A PPST web site has been created for the first time and will go "on-line" shortly.

The PPST faculty will continue to work to strengthen the core curriculum and to integrate a biomaterials subject into the program. We also plan to distribute a newly designed PPST recruiting flier to major universities around the country. This coupled with our newly established web site will insure that the program continues to attract the best of the polymer inclined students. Another PPST/Amoco poster competition is currently being organized for the upcoming fall term.

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

Michael Rubner

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98