Woodbridge Ferris, founder of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., once said: "The overpowering demand in the practical world is for men who know a few things thoroughly well, who can do constructive thinking and who have initiative."
The men and women of the FSU Rubber Program have recognized the importance of those words, and have a created a "practical world" program that promises to deliver results to our industry beginning next year and spans future decades. This is when the first crop of rubber engineer graduatesùmyself includedùcomes to work for the rubber industry.
We at Ferris State, as well as many top professionals in the rubber industry, realized years ago that there was a shortage of talent entering the elastomer business. The industry acted on that challenge and that opportunity, launching the first rubber engineering and technology program in North America in 1998, with the opening of our new 27,000-sq.-ft. National Elastomer Center. At that point, the rubber program joined 28 other technical degree programs offered at Ferris State, each competing for the best and brightest students.
Already, we have 54 students in the rubber program, and hope to have 100 by 2002.
We have classes in applications, compounding, testing and the business and managerial areas of the industry. We complete a general chemistry class and organic and polymer courses.
We spend countless hours in our labs and summers at rubber companies trying to gain as much experience as we can so that we may be prepared as much as we can be upon graduation. We take communications classes, economics classes, computer classes and a host of others that will help develop what the industry is looking for in a student fresh from college. We are taught the finer points of molding, processing, compounding, testing and mold designing. Upon graduation, we are ready for the practical world.
The classroom isn't the whole story, though. Two internships are required for graduation. In May 2002 the first of the rubber engineers will hit the ground running, and I am positive we can surpass expectations.
The outlook gets better every day for the career successes for Ferris rubber program graduates, for the further influx of new student talent and for the fulfillment of an industry need for practical, creative young talent.
I think Woodbridge Ferris would be proud.
Schook is a third-year student at FSU, pursuing a degree in rubber engineering.