Higher Education Collaboration in Polymers and Biomimicry


The College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering is a leading resource in higher education STEM, which is why CPSPE and the Akron Global Polymer Academy have teamed up with the Summit Educational Service Center to form a STEM leadership cadre.

Thirty eight teachers and administrators, mostly from Summit County K-12 schools, registered to spend four days in four different locations learning about new developments in STEM and STEM education. The workshop took place over the course of four months, with the first occurring on September 12; Participants explored resources at the PAST Innovation Lab in Columbus and discussed STEM schools and possible partnerships. September 13 saw the Maker Movement at the Idea Foundry in Columbus, where teachers could discuss new ways to involve schools in the Maker Movement.

The next workshop took place on October 3 at Bridgestone Americas Technical Center, where business and industry collaboration was the hot topic of discussion. The fourth and final day saw the participants visiting UA’s campus on December 7. They spent a morning learning about polymers and biomimicry with presentations given by the AGPA’s Content Specialist, John Fellenstein. That afternoon visitors toured several prominent research labs, generously offered by Dr. Ali Dhinojwala, Dr. Peter Niewiarowski, Dr. Henry Astley, and Dr. Hunter King.

Fifth grade teacher Heidi Short said, “Hands-on activities engage students and provide them with opportunities to answer questions and create/redesign experiences that they will remember and apply throughout their lifetime.”

This is why programs like the STEM Leadership Cadre are vital for supporting partnerships among schools and between educators and businesses. Collaboration in STEM leadership and education helps our teachers, which in turn helps our students. Participating in ideas like this is part of what makes CPSPE great.