John Mauro’s parents brought him to the Corning Museum of Glass when he was six years old, and right then and there, Mauro was hooked. Fast forward to 2014, and Mauro is a research manager at Corning, trying to nudge the next wave of young up-and-comers into the world of glass.

Earlier this year, Mauro led a team of Corning scientists in compiling the article “Glass Science in the United States: Current Status and Future Directions” in the International Journal of Applied Glass Science. For the article, the team conducted a study of academic articles from 2007 to 2013 to examine whether glass research programs at the university level are appropriately preparing their students for the future of glass.

“If research in the field of glass science is not sufficiently focused on topics of technical relevance for future industrial applications,” the article reads, “it will become increasingly difficult to meet the challenges faced by the U.S. glass industry and less likely that future researchers in this field will have the required skills and expertise needed to enable the U.S. glass industry to compete globally.”

In the study, Mauro compiled a list of fundamental research topics the team felt could be given more attention to, including glass brittleness and breakage, acoustic properties of glass, thermal conductivity of glass and chemical durability of glass.

However, while drawing attention to certain areas of study was important, the next phase of the battle will be getting more young people to do the studying. In June, Corning hosted a Glass Summit, bringing more than 120 experts from the company, academia and other areas of the industry to meet and discuss the future direction of glass science in the U.S.  The agenda included Corning and external presenters, as well as a tour of the company’s characterization and testing labs.

“There’s a shrinking pool of talent … both in students for hire and also professors in our field of glass retiring. Many are not even being replaced,” Dr. Gary Calabrese, head of global research at Corning, told USGNN.com™. “That’s kind of the genesis of the gap and led to a number of activities. We had the summit, as we had talked about this issue for a number of years.” He says the goal is to stimulate more students in the field and generate more funding, as “the opportunities in the future of glass are abound.”

Mauro stresses the importance of “building a pipeline of talent” because of glass’ continued growing of influence on society. “It’s one of the key enablers of modern civilization,” he says.

Adds Calebrese: “The earlier we can get kids interested in math and science, the better. As they progress into their later high school years and into college… we want to have as many talented people as we can.”

Calabrese and Mauro think activities such as the Glass Summit will help move things forward, and Corning plans to do more summits in the future based on positive feedback from scientists and professors.

“Certainly, the attention it got in the short term exceeds our expectation,” he says. “There has been tremendous enthusiasm. So absolutely, in the short term, no question. As far as our long-term goals, it remains to be seen. But we’re quite optimistic.”