Wei Wang is one of our research associates, based in Pennsylvania, USA. A key contributor to some of our company’s breakthrough technologies, Wei talks about his career, his success and his appetite for all things chemistry.
A Life-Long Passion for Chemistry
When Wei was a kid, he noticed that most of the things we touch every day, like soap, detergent, shampoo… are made out of chemicals.
Ever since then, I have been in the science and research world. It’s why I chose chemical engineering as my major in undergraduate study.
When he started working at PPG, the then chief technical officer, Chuck Kahle, asked him what his hobby was. “Research,” he answered.
My nerves are fully activated when I see interesting ideas and concepts.
The Freedom to Test Ideas
Wei started working with us in 2010, straight after completing his PhD and graduating from Queen’s University, Canada. He had previously earned a Master of Science in chemical engineering from Zhejiang University, China.
He first joined the synthesis “process and innovation” group, where he was able to work with almost all business units. He then moved to the automotive waterborne basecoat formulation group. Here, he was able to help drive ideas from generation through to commercialization. He is now PPG research associate I.
PPG provides lots of opportunities to expand your knowledge in different technical areas and the freedom to test-drill new ideas.
In the Driving Seat of Innovation Technologies
Wei has become co-inventor of several innovative coating solutions since joining us. These include solvent- and water-based polymer dispersion technologies, random and block copolymers as adhesion promoters, sound-dampening coatings, and a polymer platform for low temperature cure (LTC)-based products.
In 2016, he was part of the team that created the LTC coating process that was selected as a finalist for a prestigious R&D® 100 Award.
Wei also contributed to the success of PPG’s 3C1B (three-coat one-bake) Compact Paint System, which reduces energy consumption by 4%, carbon dioxide emissions by 4%, volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 4% and overall process time by 1.15 hours.
I’m proud of the many team innovations, working with platform teams in Europe and China. These include the launch of the Shanghai General Motors compact process nanogel technology, the development of the low VOC global waterborne basecoat, and the commercialization of the Ferrari low temperature cure project! It’s a pleasure to collaborate, share ideas, and work as ‘One PPG’ to drive the final product commercial launch.
Wei has also published 16 journal articles and holds 21 granted and pending U.S. patents.
Wei and his colleagues participating in The PPG Way Team ProHabits Sprint at Allison Park in October 2020
Winner of the 2020 Gordon E. Moore Medal Award
Wei was awarded the prestigious award at the virtual 2020 Innovation Day event, hosted by SCI America and the Science History Institute, for breakthroughs in automotive coating technologies. It recognizes early-career success in innovation.
Dr. Wang’s work in designing novel polymers and developing their use in formulations to solve coating issues for PPG has been remarkable.
By highlighting extraordinary individuals and their work, SCI America aims to support public understanding of research and development, provide role models for students and emphasize the role of creative research in the global economy.
When I look back at previous winners of this award, I feel honored and humbled.
Challenging the Impossible
Wei puts his success down to two key factors: attention to detail and challenging the 'obviously impossible’.
Some small signals in our experiments, which may appear to be no more than noise, could turn into a big innovation.
He believes that not only is making the ‘obviously impossible’ possible where innovation happens, but it’s also what makes it difficult for our competitors to catch up!
I’m appreciative of our leadership team and the technical platform provided to nurture innovations. Our experts have brought organic growth to our company and won PPG many external awards. These achievements make me #PPGProud