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Troy awarded $3.2 million for plastic research

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Abby Taylor

Assistant News Editor

Troy announced a $3.2 million grant in polymer research, through which Troy students will be able to earn job opportunities, gain rare research and applied science experience, and bolster local economic development.

The grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be used to create the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences, focusing on research in the areas of polymers and polymer recycling.

According to the university’s press release, “the center will serve as an integrated, multi-disciplinary research facility and will enable the University to build partnerships with the region’s polymer and plastics industry in order to increase their competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

Govind Menon, the director of the school of science and technology, will be working hands-on with students in the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences.

“We will have an analysis component, we will have a production component and we will have a mechanical testing component,” Menon said. “Students will be exposed to all of the various techniques when it comes to plastics and polymers.”

Menon said this project will connect students to the plastic industry, helping them further their research skills.

“(The students) will be involved from day one,” Menon said. “They’ll do research from day one; they’ll help us with everything we do.”

Major Gen. Walter Givhan, the senior vice chancellor for advancement and economic development at Troy, said he was excited for the opportunity.

“It’s an exciting field where we (Troy) hope that we can make a difference and advance the economic development of the region while helping to produce job-ready graduates at Troy University who’ve had hands-on experience,” Givhan said.

The grant will last for three years and can be used for research equipment and scholarships for students.

“This center is going to connect Troy University’s faculty and students with the industries in this region and in this state involved with this kind of applied science,” Givhan said.

Stephanie Baker, the director of market development for KW Plastics, said employees from KW Plastics will be involved in this project.

“There are a lot of challenges in our (plastic) industry, and while we (KW Plastics) have our own internal labs that focus on our products from day-to-day, having access to this center is going to give us an opportunity to really take on some of the larger technical challenges as an industry,” Baker said. 

Baker said students can use skills developed through the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences after college.

“KW Plastics locally employs approximately 300 local men and women in our area,” Baker said. 

“We expect that we are going to see graduates in this program that are coming in with knowledge and the experience, something that’s very rare, actually, in polymer sciences.”