Photo of Kent Hale Smith Building

50-plus years of polymer innovation

  • 1966: first polymer degrees awarded
  • 1968: renamed the Division of Macromolecular Science and Engineering, reflecting its growing interest in biopolymers and health-related issues
  • 1970: undergraduate degree program in polymer science is established. In 1976, it becomes the first such undergraduate program in the nation to be accredited
  • 1981: Professor Anne Hiltner founds the Center for Applied Polymers Research, which becomes a nationally recognized model for cooperative research with industry (Learn more about our corporate partnerships)
  • 1985: The Case Center for Adhesives, Sealants and Coatings, led by professors Irvin Krieger and Scott E. Rickert, conducts basic research that improves paints and caulks, and establishes task forces to investigate the needs for adhesives in the auto, packaging and construction industries
  • 1990: Department researchers develop a polymer coating that improves the mechanical behavior of tires and a layered film that will strengthen packaging tape
  • 1994: department moves into its current home, the $24.1 million Kent Hale Smith Building on Adelbert Road
  • 2001: Professor Eric Baer invents a unique process to create biomimetic copies of mammalian eyes, opening opportunities for the development of small cameras with wide fields of view
  • 2005: Professor Dave Schiraldi develops AeroClay®—an eco-friendly substance that can substitute as kitty litter, help sop up oil spills, or even insulate homes
  • 2006: National Science Foundation establishes the only soft-materials-focused Science and Technology Center—the Center for Layered Polymeric Systems (CLiPS)—at Case Western Reserve
  • 2012: research team led by Professor Ica Manas-Zloczower receives $3.8-million National Science Foundation PIRE grant aimed at developing sustainable energy technology by building wind turbine blades and solar panels from renewable biomaterials
  • 2015: researchers develop flexible wire-shaped microsupercapacitors that can be woven into clothing
  • 2016: Inspired by geckos keen climbing ability, Professor Liming Dai invents a powerful adhesive that holds strong under extreme cold and intense heat


What will we accomplish in the next 50 years? Check out our current research initiatives.