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3M: A Forty-Year Partnership

Students trained in projects will naturally find homes and career positions at these companies. They have a pipeline to talent.”

James Rondinelli
Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

The company behind well-known brands such as Post-it notes, Scotch tape and more, 3M has been a partner of Northwestern for over 40 years. 


Image of the dedication of the auto bays.

In addition to funding numerous annual fellowships for grateful undergraduate and graduate students, in 2015 3M supported the creation of new auto bays in the north campus garage, providing more operating space for the University’s Solar Car, Formula SAE and Mini Baja teams.

The auto bays gave the teams much more space to build their cars and store previous models.

3M also sponsors the teams with funding for parts and services for the cars—such as raw aluminum, shock absorbers, and springs—and by providing basic materials such as cleaning supplies, sandpaper, and Scotch-Brite.

Student Engagement

Michael Mulienburg (McC’90), 3M Operational Technology Manager, at the 2016 DFA National Leadership Studio

3M is an active recruiter on campus, targeting Northwestern students for internships as well as full-time positions. The company has extensively engaged McCormick students through Interview Days, Design Expo and more, and Kellogg student groups have hosted C-level 3M representatives to learn more about leadership and globalization experiences. 3M also supports the Design for America Leadership Studio, which brings in over 100 students from nearly 40 universities over a five-day training period to learn about design innovation and social impact.

Support from 3M for this annual event is helping students across the country to learn about design, social innovation and creative leadership.

3M is also generous with suppling materials for the DFA Studio-in-a-Bag for each campus in the network to use during the school year. These supplies are essential to the prototyping and ideation for the design thinking process.

Innovation and Research

In the research realm, 3M has provided several Non-Tenured Faculty Awards to prominent Northwestern professors, most recently to James Rondinelli.

Rondinelli, a McCormick professor who heads the Material Theory + Design Group, used the funding he received from his non-tenured faculty award to support PhD students. With 3M’s support, he has been able to pursue lines of research he otherwise wouldn’t be able to explore.

Rondinelli also cites the possibility of projects like these to open up great opportunities for students.

Michael Jewett, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at McCormick, is a previous Faculty Research Awardee. He examines biological systems involved in protein synthesis and metabolism and is co-director of Northwestern’s Center for Synthetic Biology.

He cites 3M’s support as instrumental in helping further the lab’s long-term goals but believes his work will be useful to the company as well. 3M makes many polymers, and outcomes of his project could have many potential applications, such as manufacturing products made from non-renewable resources.

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Read More

Read more about the dedication of the new auto bays.

Read more about the 2016 Design for America National Leadership Studio.