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Chains of Opportunity

The University of Akron and the Emergence of The Polymer Age 1909–2007

by Mark Bowles

Pages: 357; Size: 6" x 9"
Series: Ohio History and Culture

ISBN: 978-1-931968-53-9

Jacketed Hardcover
Price: $45.95

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.


About the author

Mark Bowles

Mark D. Bowles has authored or coauthored seven books on the history of space exploration, nuclear research, and medicine. His book, Science in Flux, won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ 2005 History Manuscript Award, which is presented each year for the best historical manuscript dealing with the impact of aeronautics and astronautics on society. Bowles received his BA in psychology and MA in history from the University of Akron, his PhD in the history of technology from Case Western Reserve University, and his MBA in technology management from the University of Phoenix. He founded Belle History in 2007. He is married to Nancy and they have three daughters.

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