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The Final Word by Helen Roush

You may have read over on Nip Impressions that effective June 1, Georgia Tech’s Institute of Paper Science and Technology (IPST) has been renamed the Renewable Bioproducts Institute (RBI).

At first glance, one might think the university is distancing itself from paper.

That doesn’t seem to be the case. If anything, the recent announcement shows that Georgia Tech has faith in our industry and is making an investment by expanding its reach to include technologies that produce chemicals, biofuels and new material products from forest raw materials.

Georgia Tech said it has committed to the following actions, to further support the future growth of RBI:

•    Recruit at least one new tenure track professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry with relevant bioproducts experience to join more than 40 Georgia Tech faculty now working with RBI.
•    Recruit a new tenure track professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering to contribute to the educational and research mission of the RBI.
•    Recruit a professor of the practice with relevant industrial experience to work at the academic and research interface between industry and the RBI.
•    Invest significant capital funds to expand and repurpose core lab facilities in the existing IPST building to better align with the expanded research focus areas of biorefining, biopolymers and new materials.
•    Draw on the full range of Georgia Tech’s many industrial and political relationships to help promote and capture the opportunities in the bioproducts area.

According to Institute Director Norman Marsolan, "The new RBI will continue to develop value for the paper industry while growing its engagements with new industry partners to create future opportunities."

We’ve written about this before, but if you take a look around our industry, you see by and large an aging workforce.

We’ve talked with so many industry leaders who tell us that companies are worried about this upcoming “gray tsunami.” They’re worried about having to replace a large percentage of their ranks in a fairly short period of time. They tell us that this is the perfect time for the next generation to break into our industry.

Georgia Tech is to be applauded for its decision to add faculty and branch out its research avenues to better cover our entire industry.

Helen Roush is Vice President, Communications Sciences at Paperitalo Publications. She can be reached by email at helen.roush@taii.com.


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