Miami University will offer one less major in fall 2011 with elimination of the paper science and engineering major.
Associate professor of chemical and paper engineering Steven Keller said the university must adapt to industry standards.
“Alumni may be sad to see it go, but it’s not disappearing,” Keller said. “The focus just changed.”
According to Keller, by majoring in chemical engineering and picking one of three concentrations, students will be allowed more freedom.
He said students are now able to major in chemical engineering and have a concentration in paper science, environmental science or biochemical engineering.
“The paper industry is still a strong industry,” Keller said. “It’s just progressing like everything else.”
Keller said the industry will have many job openings, especially in the next few years. Baby boomers of the 1960s and 70s will be retiring soon, according to Keller, creating more opportunities for potential employees.
He also said at least 10 of the companies at the recent career fair were looking for paper science majors.
“Actually, this year a graduate from the (paper science and chemical engineering) program came back to interview students for International Paper,” Keller said.
Shashi Lalvani, chemical and paper engineering department chair and professor, said no matter what engineering degree students graduate with, they will be able to find jobs in the paper industry.
“By offering chemical engineering and concentrating in paper science, the degree is broader,” he said. “We’re enhancing the experience.”
According to Lalvani, student interest in the paper science and chemical engineering major peeked in the 1990s. Since then, he said there has been a steady decline, something he hopes to correct with the addition of a broader major.
There are also many ways for students to be awarded scholarships in the program. The Paper Science & Engineering Foundation, for instance, was established to prepare students for a career in paper and affiliated industries.
According to business coordinator Candace Crist, corporations give money to Miami to attract more students to the field.
Crist said students who broaden their horizons with a chemical engineering degree and focus on paper science will have great opportunities in the industry.
“If I had to say the two most important things about what we do, I’d say the industry is changing but not dying, and this department really is a hidden treasure,” Crist said.