The idea of an annual technical conference for the coatings industry was conceived and founded by three faculty members of the Department of Polymer Science at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM): Drs. Gary Wildman, George Bufkin, and Shelby Thames. The results of their efforts—the first “Water-Borne and Higher-Solids Coating Symposium”—was held August 13–15, 1973, in New Orleans, LA and attracted 135 attendees.

Following the success of the first Symposium, the founders decided that future symposia would be more advantageously scheduled during the winter in New Orleans, and particularly just prior to Mardi Gras. Without exception, the Symposium has been organized as a three-day meeting: two full days, plus a “shortened” third day (ending midday or early afternoon) to allow attendees to return home that evening. The early symposia were held Monday through Wednesday; however, in1985, the program moved permanently to a Wednesday to Friday format. Over the years, the Symposium has expanded into a week-long event encompassing multiple activities. In 1989, Monday and Tuesday short courses were added to the program. In subsequent years, as many as six short courses were offered per year, some starting as early as the Saturday prior to the Symposium. The Technology Showcase was added in 1998, as a forum for scientists and engineers representing manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers to present their most recent developments in an interactive booth format. The Technology Showcase typically begins on the Tuesday prior to the Symposium and extends through the second day of the Symposium.

CoatingTech’s History of the Waterborne Symposium
Orginally appearing in the January 2013 issue of CoatingsTech Magazine, pp 36-38