Dow Corning Makes Major Contribution to Support Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

Michigan Technological University's Unit Operations Lab, a chemical processing facility located right on campus, will remain among the nation's best, thanks to a significant donation from Dow Corning Corporation.

The lab provides chemical engineering students the latest industrial technology, giving them skills and experience that enable them to move seamlessly from the classroom to the workplace.

"We are very grateful to Dow Corning for their generous gift," said Komar Kawatra, chair of Michigan Tech's Department of Chemical Engineering. "This is the finest facility of its kind in the country, and with the improvements funded by Dow Corning, we will continue to provide our students with the very best hands-on chemical engineering education."

"Michigan Tech has a fantastic chemical engineering program and many of Dow Corning's talented employees are Michigan Tech graduates," said Dow Corning Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Gregg Zank. "Michigan Tech's commitment to continuing this program is important to sustaining growth at both Dow Corning and in the chemical industry. We're proud to do our part to support science and math education locally and globally, and to contribute to Michigan Tech's Unit Operations Lab."

The processing plant is used to produce polydimethylsiloxane, a type of silicone used in a variety of products, including shampoos and solvents. Currently, the heating portion of the process takes about 14 hours. Upgrades should cut that time nearly in half and give students experience with cutting-edge industrial technology. The improvements will also allow precollege students in Michigan Tech's Summer Youth Program to run experiments, introducing them to possible careers in engineering.

In addition, Dow Corning's gift will be used to upgrade systems in the control room, where students monitor and control all steps of the chemical production process.

"This lab provides exceptional job preparation for our students," Research Associate Tim Gasperich said. "If it weren't for the support of donors such as Dow Corning, we simply couldn't offer this kind of experience."

David Caspary, manager of department lab facilities, agreed. "In 1991 Dow Corning donated a substantial amount of money to build a new batch processing pilot plant in our Unit Operations Lab," he said. "Since that time, Dow Corning has provided annual in-kind support for this pilot plant, guaranteeing that our students have the very best facilities. This gift continues that long history of generosity and a re-investment in the future students of Michigan Tech."

Dow Corning ( provides performance-enhancing solutions to serve the diverse needs of more than 25,000 customers worldwide. A global leader in silicon-based technology and innovation, offering more than 7,000 products and services, Dow Corning is equally owned by The Dow Chemical Company and Corning Incorporated. More than half of Dow Corning's sales are outside the United States.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.