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The Scientific Glassblowing Learning Center
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Scientific Glassblowing Schools

The scientific glassblowing community is relatively small. For example, the American Scientific Glassblower Society has approximately 650 members and affiliate members. There are no good statistics on the number of scientific glassblowers in the US. Who do you include? Do you include neon workers who moonlight in scientific glass and vice-versa? Or quartz workers who make semi-conductors glassware? How about toolers who make joints, flanges, stopcocks and other essential component parts for the industry? And don't forget borosilicate artists who make pipes, giftware, jewelry, and even (ahem) adult "toys". All of these artisans possess the necessary skills for scientific glassworblowing. A reasonable best guesstimate is that there are approximatey 2,000 or so qualified scientific glassblowers in the US.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that only one school in the US offers a degree program in scientific glassblowing. Salem Community College in New Jersey offers a two-year Associate in Applied Science degree which provides the necessary skills and techniques to construct scientific glass apparatus for university laboratories as well as industrial research and production. After graduation, the students face a 7,000 to 8,000 hour apprenticeship period (approximately 4-6 years) to become a journeyman. It will take a decade more of experience before one can be considered a master glassblower.

Alfred University is the only school in the US that offers a graduate program in Glass Science. This kind of program goes well beyond basic scientific glassblowing and covers aspects of material science and engineering.

The Rhode Island School of Design runs has a Glass Division of Fine Arts which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees covering all of the techniques used by the scientific glassblower but the program is more broadly focused on the field of art glass.

The American Chemical Society's Chemical and Engineering News ran a 2006 cover story "An Essential Craft" that discusses the field, schools, and a whole lot more. The article also includes an interactive photo gallery, Scientific and Medical Glassblowers At Work, and some additional features for those who might consider a career (or sideline) as a scientific glassblower.

Scientific Glassblowing Courses and Training Resources

The American Scientific Glassblowers Society offers workshops and seminars through their local section meetings and an annual symposium which offers 16 hours of hands-on training by skilled glassblowers for junior members. Other member benefits include a library of over 80 hours of glassblowing workshops on DVD, a quarterly journal and more. Participation in ASGS activities is a sure way to develop scientific glassblowing skills and create a network of professional resources. And even though the name says "American", ASGS membership is international.

Glassblowing used to be be taught in many Physical Chemistry laboratory courses, but this has all but disappeared in recent years given the commercial availability of a wide range of glassware and changing pedagogical priorities. Nonetheless, many universities and colleges with glass shops will offer 1-3 credit hour courses in scientific glassblowing basics as well as "short courses" during the summer or intersessions. Here are some courses which were available as of May, 2011. Note that virtually all of these courses are restricted to five or six students because they require intensive one-on-one instruction:

Still active

Probably not, as of 2014

These courses, resources, and sites have apparently disappeared forever, but are listed here just in case anyone has more information to share.

As you read through the above links, you'll notice that most university/college courses are ad hoc subject to the glassblower availability. So if you're interested in getting some formal or informal instruction, try contacting your local college/university to see if they have a glass shop. Talk to their glassblower and see if he or she offers a course open to the public or if they know of other possibilities such as local studios or freelancers who might consider taking you under their wing.

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