In The Graduate, the character played by Dustin Hoffman was told that he should hitch his future to "Plastics!" But if the movie were being made today, the advice to college students might be a little different; the hot field is "hazardous waste." Listen to Ralph Kummler, professor and chairman of chemical and metallurgical engineering at Wayne State University.

"Hazardous waste is probably the single-most booming area in new education in the U.S. today," Kummler says. "Five years ago universities had never heard of the hazardous waste management area, and even two years ago, you could probably count the number of programs on the fingers of one hand. But today a lot of programs have begun, and it's just the tip of the iceberg."

Kummler's own university has offered a graduate certificate (equivalent to half a master's degree) in hazardous waste management since 1986, and is in the process of...

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