The Chemistry Professor as Consultant at the Norwegian Institute of Technology, 1910–1930
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionAmbix. 2020, 67 (3), 271-288. https://doi.org/10.1080/00026980.2020.1794697
The Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH) was established in Trondheim in 1910, shortly after the country had gained its independence from Sweden. The establishment of NTH coincided with the beginning of large-scale industry in Norway, and expectations were high as to what the Institute could contribute in terms of competence to establish new industries. Its professors were expected to be not just teachers or academics, but also to be involved in projects with industry. Consultancy was one way of exercising authority in relevant areas, and to acquire experience with industrial projects. Historical accounts about NTH often mention that its professors were consultants for industry, but what this entailed is rarely discussed. In this paper, I will investigate how two chemistry professors, appointed around 1910, formed their roles as consultants: Peder Farup, who experimented with the pigment titanium white for the successful company Elektrokemisk (now Elkem) in the 1910s; and Sigval Schmidt-Nielsen, who became the country’s authority on nutrition, and served both the state and the margarine industry as a consultant from World War I into the 1930s. I will argue that both Farup and Schmidt-Nielsen created “hybrid careers,” using a concept introduced by Eda Kranaki in 1992.