BASF Science Academy inspires innovative thinking

New Jersey high school students embrace the challenges of chemistry at BASF’s two-week advanced level science program

FLORHAM PARK, NJ, August 3, 2017 – Carrie Davis of Morris Hills High School, Hetal Lad of John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, Thomas McBride of Whippany High School, and Ryan Schmidt of Jefferson Township High School jump-started their college experience and learned the business of chemistry at the seventh annual BASF Science Academy.

The four students were among 20 high school seniors who earned the opportunity to participate in the program designed to prepare students for a career in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

The two-week summer science program, developed by BASF Corporation, is held at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in Madison, New Jersey. Working in teams, students use BASF chemistry to formulate their own personal care products and develop a go-to-market plan and strategy. At the end of the program, students present their product to a panel of BASF executives and FDU academic leaders.

“Providing students access to high-quality learning opportunities in STEM is a priority,” said Robin Rotenberg, Vice President of Corporate Communications for BASF in North America. “This two-week academy continues to play an important role in the students’ enduring appreciation of science and will serve as an inspiration to pursue higher education and a career in STEM.”

Following the curriculum theme, “From Molecules to Marketplace,” students gained invaluable hands-on experience in college chemistry labs, while developing a marketing strategy to link their product to the consumer. Students also experienced chemistry in action by visiting the BASF Research and Development labs in Tarrytown, NY and by meeting with cosmetic chemists and subject matter experts. Through exposure to real world chemistry, students observed how the fundamental building blocks of many everyday products are comprised.

“For seven years, our partnership with BASF has resulted in 140 students learning advanced level science applications in a dynamic college campus setting,” said Dr. Brian Olechnowski, Program Director at FDU. “We look forward to building on this successful learning model.”

Students graduate from the program with three transferable college science credits to encourage their pursuit in a STEM field. In addition, FDU offers Science Academy alumni $5,000 scholarships if they elect to attend FDU in the fall of 2018.

“Science Academy is a great, non-competitive environment where students from diverse backgrounds work together in a dynamic team environment,” said Carrie Davis from Dover.

According to Hetal Lad from Iselin, the two-week academy is a place where she can take what she loves about science and apply it to a real-world science application.

“Science Academy is not only a bridge between the classroom and hands-on science work, but also between people from different regions and cultures across North America,” said Thomas McBride from Oak Ridge.

For Ryan Schmidt from Morris Plains, “The program was an opportunity to use the knowledge that I learned in the classroom and create my product through a hands-on science process.”

Of the 140 students who have participated in the program to date, several Science Academy alumni have returned to BASF through the summer hire internship program and the Professional Development Program (PDP). Last year, Science Academy class of 2011 alumnus Kevin Chao joined BASF as a full-time PDP employee in Beaumont, TX. This fall, Michelle West, a 2013 Science Academy graduate will begin a full-time PDP role at the BASF site in Geismar, LA. Other successful alumni are attending universities and pursuing degrees in math, chemistry, engineering, biology, medicine, psychology, education and business, to name a few.

See what the 2017 Science Academy students had to say about the program:

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