Learning in Action: A Visit to BASF

Dr. Tom Carr’s chemistry students recently enjoyed an outing to BASF North American Refinish Application & Training Center in Whitehouse, Ohio. Thank you to Dr. Carr for submitting the following write-up on the experience.

Chemistry is all around us! As part of a high-quality STEM education, Northwest State Community College exposes chemistry students to practitioners from chemical process industries. NSCC has a relationship with BASF’s Whitehouse installation, creating valuable learning experiences for introductory chemistry students.

Headquartered in Germany, BASF is the world’s largest chemical company with over 100,000 employees and nearly 400 production sites worldwide. It has 16 business units that provide an extensive array of products from pharmaceuticals to coatings. NSCC’s interaction has been through BASF North American Refinish Application & Training Center. The center provides research and development, technical and customer support services for BASF’s coatings business groups, especially automotive refinishing.


During our most recent visit, students learned about the history of BASF, which produced produced dyes and fertilizers early on. Students also learned about how, over the years, BASF expanded into areas like plastics and catalytic converters. Then they were introduced to future global business opportunities via such trends as population shifts to cities, increasingly large consumption of chickens, and sustainability. BASF’s mission is summed up by its slogan: “We create chemistry for a sustainable future.”

Following orientation, students toured the facility. They learned about BASF’s color science capabilities, including blending and color-matching. They became acquainted with polymer science for durable and decorative auto coatings. The technical aspects of testing (e.g., weathering) and application of automotive coatings were discussed. Students learned that automotive coatings, far from being mundane, have lots of science and technology attached to them.

Thanks to Bradley Richards, research and development manager, and Paul Serdiuk, coatings technical expert, for being gracious hosts and demonstrating that chemistry is truly all around us.