I recently attended the combined Pigment and Color Science Forum and TiO2 World Summit in Cleveland, an annual event that is produced by Smithers Rapra. This unique conference attracts an international audience of TiO2, and color science and design professionals from a number of industries.

A presentation that drew a great amount of interest was by Dean Webster, Professor and Chair, Coatings and Polymeric Materials, at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Webster announced a new education program in color science and technology that is being launched at the university. Currently, NDSU’s Coatings and Polymeric Materials department offers 110 years of paint research and education, and offers undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. programs in Coatings and Polymeric Materials, and Materials and Nanotechnology. This new program will offer a Master’s in Science in Color Technology.

Webster noted that currently there is no academic program in the United States offering training in color technology, and that due to industry growth and many upcoming retirements, there is a need for trained graduates.

The proposed curriculum for this two-year degree will include two semesters of Color and Appearance (with lab), two semesters of Color Matching and Colorant Formulation (with lab), Diffuse Reflectance Spectroscopy (with lab), Color Space and its Transforms, Mathematical Tools for Color Technology, Independent Study/Capstone Project, Visual Perception, and Optics.

Some of the expected outcomes/skills include: understanding the foundations of colorimetry and the CIE system, when and why basic colorimetry fails, and the difference between light sources and illuminants. In addition, graduates will have the ability to correctly operate any color measuring device available, standardize a reflectance or transmittance spectrophotometer and correct common errors, review the performance of an instrument and recognize valid readings and bad readings, build a colorant characterization database, use a database of colorant properties to match opaque color standards, characterize and identify classes of pigments, establish and assess color difference tolerances, set up the parametric factors in a color tolerance equation, perform a gauge R&R on an optical instrument, and assess and control metamerism.

Over the years I have met many of the color experts employed with both coatings manufacturers and their suppliers. These individuals sometimes have 40+ years of experience in their field, and are trusted implicitly within their companies. This is certainly a job field that employers worry about filling once those with decades of experience retire. It is great that NDSU is establishing a program to give the next generation of color technologists the education and experience they need to enter the workforce and continue the work.

Industry support is needed to help launch this program, which is expected to begin in the fall of 2017 with partial course offerings, and full course offerings available by the fall of 2018. NDSU is looking for one-time funds for infrastructure, partial faculty and teaching assistant support, recruiting help, internship opportunities and eventual jobs for its graduates. If your company is interested in learning more, or supporting this program, e-mail Dean Webster at dean.webster@ndsu.edu.