Leo Baekeland, the Ghent-born plastics pioneer

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Explore Leo Baekeland’s fascinating life and career. The film lasts 56 minutes, but there’s also a shorter 21-minute version. 

Leo Baekeland studied Chemistry at the University of Ghent, which was then called Rijksuniversiteit Gent (RUG). He obtained his PhD in Natural Sciences in 1884.  He also obtained a diploma in Technical Engineering from Nijverheidsschool (Trade School) in Ghent, which is comparable to today’s degree in Industrial Engineering. After having worked as an assistant at Rijksuniversiteit Gent (RUG) for several years, he left for the United States in 1889. He decided to suspend his academic career to focus on corporate life. 

Leo Baekeland is mainly known for discovering Bakelite and for inventing Velox photo paper. In 1939 he was awarded an honorary degree from his alma mater in Ghent. Health problems, the rise of carbide and a new threat of war in Europe resulted in his medal never leaving the city of Ghent. It is now part of the collection of the Museum for the History of Sciences. 

Keen to find out more about Baekeland? Go to http://www.ugentmemorie.be/personen/baekeland-leo-1863-1944

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For whom

youngsters, adults


Jozef Plateaustraat 22 -