Plastics Lab research takes students to Dubai

February 3, 2014

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Students in Plastics Lab

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The movement to “go green” and pursue environmentally-friendly alternatives has been gaining momentum across the nation, and three University of Wisconsin-Platteville students’ contributions to this pursuit recently took them overseas to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Bryce Blackbourn, a senior industrial technology management major with minors in plastics processing, metals processing and drafting and product development, from Shullsburg, Wis.; Kevon Tabrizi, a senior biology major with a plastics processing minor, from Platteville; and Teng Yang, a senior industrial technology management major, with minors in plastics processing and drafting and product development, from Oshkosh, Wis., recently presented research at the American National Technical Exhibition Conference in Dubai.

The students’ research focused on additives, such as coloring agents, that are­ contained in most plastics and can sometimes be lead-based and lead to harmful health and environmental repercussions. The students ­– advised by Dr. Majid Tabrizi, professor of industrial studies at UW-Platteville – have been exploring the use of lignin as a replacement for chemical additives in plastic. Lignin is an organic byproduct of wood and is typically discarded by the paper industry when trees are processed. The students have found that this waste from another industry can potentially be used as a successful coloring agent in plastic.

The two-day conference, organized by the Society of Plastics Engineers, featured international leaders from the plastics industry. Represented countries included Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Italy, among others. UW-Platteville was one of only five universities in the United States represented at the conference, and the majority of the conference presenters were professors and industry professionals. “We’re just undergraduate students and the people at the conference are scientists and CEOs who have master’s degrees and Ph.D.’s, who are not only from the U.S. but are also international.” said Yang.

“It is a very good experience to be able to travel overseas and take all of our hard work and show it to different cultures. It is a unique opportunity to have a speech and presentation to show, in front of leading people in industry, what we are doing here and what UW-Platteville has to offer,” said Blackbourn.

“It was good meeting the people involved and making connections in this type of work and just learning from the experience both in a cultural and professional level,” added Kevon.

In addition to the presentation on their lignin research, the students also presented on their work with Moldex3D, a product used for plastic injection modeling and simulation.

The students also commented that they thank Dr. Wayne Weber, dean of the College of Biology, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture for his support; Dr. Tabrizi for his time, help and guidance through the research; and Dr. Ali Manesh, CEO of The American Science and Technology Corporation, for including them on his research team and giving them the opportunity to present the project.

 

Contact: Dr. Majid Tabrizi, industrial studies department, (608) 342-1115, tabrizi@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Alison Parkins, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1526, parkinsal@uwplatt.edu

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