While “plastics” was a one-word joke in the 1967 movie The Graduate, plastics and other polymers have never been a laughing matter at the University of Akron, with its world-renowned College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. Chains of Opportunity: The University of Akron and the Emergence of the Polymer Age, 1909–2007 tells the story of the university’s rise to prominence in the field, beginning with the world’s first academic course in rubber chemistry almost a century ago.
Chains of Opportunity explores the university’s pioneering contributions to rubber chemistry, polymer science, and polymer engineering. It traces the school’s interaction with Akron rubber giants such as Goodyear and Firestone, recounts its administration of the federal government’s synthetic rubber program during World War II, and describes its role in the development and professionalization of the academic discipline in polymers. The University of Akron has been an essential force in establishing the polymer age that has become a pervasive part of our material lives, in everything from toys to biotechnology.