From fellow to industry: Thakare shares how assistantship led to PPG

4/22/2022 10:39:20 AM PPG Communications

When Dhawal Thakare, Science & Technology (S&T) research chemist in PPG’s Specialty Coatings and Materials (SCM) business, joined a recent PPG visit to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), a full-circle moment took place.

PPG logoDuring the 2019-2020 academic year, Thakare was awarded a PPG-Materials Research Lab (MRL) Graduate Research Assistantship while he was pursuing his PhD. The program, funded by PPG Foundation grants for the past six years and administered by a competitive selection process by the MRL, enables graduate students to pursue cutting-edge research that spans a range of materials-related science and engineering fields.

As part of the April 2022 campus visit, Thakare and other members of the UIUC recruiting team including Matthew Luchansky, research manager, met with the newly appointed 2022 fellows and heard research presentations from students funded by the PPG Foundation in prior years. These students belong to a wide variety of departments including materials science, chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering and nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering.

“Access to the funding provided through my assistantship allowed me to pursue anti-corrosion research that I was quite passionate about. Outside of the lab, I was presented with opportunities to network with PPG researchers, receive feedback on my research from PPG’s experts, and publish my work in a leading academic journal, among other opportunities that led to my current role at PPG,” said Thakare.

“Thanks to my fellowship, I experienced opportunities to analyze and solve complex problems. Bridging academia and industry, now I bring this experience to my work in optical monomers and coatings at PPG to understand customer challenges and create innovative solutions,” Thakare continued. “I look forward to seeing future opportunities like this presented to the new PPG Fellows.”

During the recent university visit, Luchansky and Thakare held a mini-conference with the current and past PPG Fellows from the last few years and held a PPG-sponsored event with the Graduate Society of Women Engineers, focused on discussing the transition from academia to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers in industry and providing an informal resume review.

“Our partnership with the UIUC and MRL helps to build the next generation of diverse STEM leaders, support talented students pursuing their graduate studies, and ensure they have the tools and resources necessary to be successful,” said Luchansky. “It is very rewarding and valuable to see a former PPG Fellow returning to campus to join our recruiting and outreach efforts.”

In acknowledgement of PPG’s support of the graduate student fellowships and research facilities, MRL also unveiled the “PPG Conference Room” that proudly displays the names of those funded by the PPG Foundation since 2017.

To learn more about how PPG partners with leading universities to advance innovation and support diverse STEM scholars, click here