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Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center Breaks Ground at Cal Poly

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The Western Coatings Technology Center (WCTC) at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) is one step closer to reality, as ground was broken on a new $2.5 million facility.

The Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center will be located on the right side of Cal Poly's new Center for Science and Mathematics, pictured in architectural rendering.
The Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center will be located on the right side of Cal Poly's new Center for Science and Mathematics, pictured in architectural rendering.
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It will be named after Kenneth N. Edwards, CEO of Dunn-Edwards Paint, in recognition of his tremendous efforts in helping to fund the project.

The WCTC is designed to expand industry-sponsored research on campus while providing state-of-the-art facilities for students to learn and conduct real-world coatings and polymer-related research with faculty and industry mentors.

The WCTC will be housed in the larger Center for Science and Mathematics, a $132-million, 200,000-sq-ft facility for science instruction and research.

Gilbane Building Co. is general contractor on the WCTC project and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects is the architect.

Although part of the state-funded center, the WCTC’s facilities and equipment must be funded entirely by private donations. “Ken has been tireless in his role to get the project funded,” says Phil Bailey, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. “As chair of the WCTC fund-raising campaign for the past decade, he was instrumental in helping us secure the private individual and corporate donations that made our dream a reality.”

Bailey says that Edwards made a significant personal pledge and helped secure a substantial commitment from Dunn-Edwards Corp., and from other companies including Behr Process Corp., The Sherwin Williams Co., Masco Corp. and California Paint and Coatings. Edwards has been involved with Cal Poly’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and their coatings and polymers program for more than 25 years. He provided the lead gift to establish the Arthur C. Edwards Endowed Chair for Coatings Technology and Ecology, named in honor of his father who was a co-founder of the Dunn-Edwards Corp.

The department currently offers an undergraduate degree program with a concentration in coatings science and polymers, as well as an industry-focused master’s degree in the same area.

Edwards offers praise for the department’s research and development, which benefits the entire industry.

“I’m so impressed by the quality of the students, the faculty and the hands-on training,” he says. “Cal Poly is the only university in the West where students can receive such a concentrated education in coatings and polymers.”

Edwards adds that Cal Poly students have participated in summer internship programs at Dunn-Edwards and other coatings and coatings-related corporations for the past 18 years and upon graduation many have gone on to establish successful careers in the industry.

The only such facility on the West Coast, the new WCTC’s modern research facilities will include a polymer synthesis laboratory, instrumental analysis center, project research laboratories, and the Dunn-Edwards Coatings Formulation Laboratory, named in recognition of the leadership and generosity of both Kenneth Edwards and the Dunn-Edwards Corp.

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