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Changing Times

by Linda Raber
September 4, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 36

Credit: Sandra Valdez/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Credit: Sandra Valdez/Los Alamos National Laboratory

If the saying is true and variety is indeed the spice of life, chemistry and chemical engineering education is getting pretty zesty these days. Working through their chemistry and chemical engineering departments, students are increasingly selecting individualized paths to bachelor's degrees and finding some Ph.D. departments more willing to accommodate their needs. This year's education supplement examines innovations in academic programs, as well as practical tips for academic job hunters.

First is a close look at the recently completed Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate for insight into the evolving Ph.D. degree. Focusing on several universities and their experiences instituting reforms, Associate Editor Sarah Everts describes departmental changes that include first-year lab rotations, professional development workshops, and programs to ensure that all students feel that they are part of departmental activities.

Next is a survey of international study and how it can put chemistry students a jump ahead of their colleagues in terms of their communication skills and their ability to solve problems on the fly. Assistant Editor Linda Wang talks with people who have managed to study abroad and graduate with chemistry degrees on time. She reports on the challenges and opportunities of this increasingly popular educational choice.

Then comes a story about chemical engineering students looking for real-world experience before graduation as interns or as co-op students. Assistant Editor Rachel Petkewich examines both types of experiential opportunities and what students can gain from them. Many employers end up hiring their co-op students. Petkewich talks with recruiters who explain why.

Finally, Associate Editor Susan R. Morrissey, with the help of professors at major research universities, has come up with a list of 10 tips to help postdocs land faculty positions. In researching the article, Morrissey asked professors to tell her about mistakes job candidates make during interviews. The result is light-hearted in tone but serious in substance.



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