T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation

The T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation explores, celebrates, and encourages innovation and sustainability in the chemical sciences.

This event brings together established and emerging leaders in the technical, entrepreneurial, healthcare, and policy arenas to share innovative ideas that impact our world.

The T. T. Chao Symposium is made possible through the generosity of the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation.

2023 Symposium

Plastics: Challenges and Potential

Synthetic plastics—once heralded as the materials of the future—are now recognized as a growing environmental threat. But when did our wonder and excitement about plastic products transform into anxiety and doubt?

Expert speakers examined plastics history and share perspectives ranging from local to global—and shared inspiring contemporary case studies that approach the promise and perils of plastics in new and innovative ways. From plastics circularity in healthcare to changing modes of recycling, to global plastics industry collaborations and beyond, this dynamic and interactive event revealed new perspectives on the shifting world of plastics—and the future of our everyday environment.

The 2023 T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation was presented in collaboration with the Organization of American States. Live interpretation in Spanish was broadcast to remote attendees.

2022 Symposium

50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

The 2022 Chao Symposium featured opening remarks by Albert Y. Chao, president and CEO of Westlake Chemical, and David Cole, president and CEO of the Science History Institute, who moderated a panel discussion by green chemistry and sustainability experts. Panelists included the American Chemical Society’s David Constable, Indiana University’s David Konisky, Penn State’s Sam Mason, and Yale’s Julie Zimmerman.

2022 marked the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s landmark legislation aimed at reducing water pollution and improving water quality. The symposium used this milestone to reflect on the past, present, and future of water quality in the United States and globally.

2021 Symposium

Innovations in Sustainable Chemistry

The 2021 virtual symposium featured opening remarks by Albert Y. Chao, president and CEO of Westlake Chemical, and David Cole, president and CEO of the Science History Institute, who moderated a discussion by green chemistry and sustainability experts. Panelists included Daryl Boudreaux (Rice University, retired), James D. Batteas (Texas A&M University), Naomi Halas (Syzygy Plasmonics), Trevor Best (Syzygy Plasmonics), and Eric Schelter (University of Pennsylvania).

Infrastructures for Innovation Series

The three-year Infrastructures for Innovation series within the Chao Symposium on Innovation examined and drew attention to the systems needed to support innovation and innovation-based industries and the ways in which historical industries continue to shape the future of innovation.

  • Aligning Policy and Practice (2020)
  • Making Space for Innovation in the 21st Century (2019)
  • Financing Innovation in Houston Today for Tomorrow (2018)

About Ting Tsung Chao

T. T. Chao

A pioneer in the chemical and plastics industries, T. T. Chao (1921–2008) created a successful career that spanned more than 50 years. Chao founded numerous petrochemical and plastics fabrication companies, including plants in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, and the United States. Many of these companies were in partnership with international companies such as Mobil Oil Corporation, Gulf Oil Corporation, Norsk Hydro AS, Sumitomo Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Hercules, Inc/Himont Inc., BTR PLC, PNB (Malaysia), and the IFC of World Bank.

In the late 1940s Chao moved to Taiwan from Suzhou, China. In the mid-1950s he was a cofounder of Taiwan’s first polyvinyl chloride (PVC) business, under the auspices of a United States Agency for International Development program. A decade later he established China General Plastics Group, which included a number of the premier publicly held petrochemical and plastics manufacturers in Asia.

After three decades of experience and success in Asia, Chao entered the North American petrochemical industry with the acquisition of a polyethylene plant in Sulphur, Louisiana, and the creation of Westlake Polymers Corporation. This initial acquisition has grown through subsequent acquisitions and green-field construction to become Westlake Chemical Corporation, a NYSE-listed company engaged in the olefins and vinyls businesses in North America, with 14 operating sites and annual revenues close to $2 billion.

In the late 1980s Chao founded the Titan Group in Malaysia by building the country’s first and largest integrated petrochemical complex, in the state of Johor. Chao was honored as Datuk by the king of Malaysia for his contribution to the growth of the Malaysian petrochemical industry.


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