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News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

National plastics conference honors PSU students

Two students in the plastics engineering technology program at Pittsburg State University were given top placement at this spring’s Society of Plastics Engineers’ Global Plastics Environmental Conference.

Michael Thurman, a senior from Chanute, Kan., and Semonti Sinharoy, a senior from India, attended the March conference in Orlando, Fla., and presented their research in the undergraduate student poster presentations.

Thurman, who is interested in a career in the aerospace industry, designed his 4-foot by 3-foot poster with information about the efforts to bring the plastics industry into a more environmentally friendly environment – specifically by creating trash can liners that are biodegradable to a certain degree.

“These plastics materials are overcrowding landfills. They don’t go away for generations,” he said of his research that took second place overall. “The industry has a tough reputation for not being greener, so there’s a lot of effort in making changes.”

Sinharoy, a dual plastics and chemistry major who hopes to go to work for a petro chemicals company, designed her first-place poster around her work with PSU’s Kansas Polymer Research Center. The KPRC uses polymers and polyols from soybean oil to create everyday products such as foams and plastics. As a student worker there, she assists in research that focuses on making polyols recyclable so that the end products are biodegradable.

With competition from schools including Clemson University, Georgia Tech and Penn State, the two say they were surprised when they were called forward at the next morning’s breakfast to receive their cash prizes.

“When they announced Michael had placed second, I didn’t think I would place at all,” admits Sinharoy. “They told us PSU is doing a good job in research, but I didn’t think two of us from the same school would both win.”

Thurman agrees the university was warmly welcomed. “This is the first time anyone from PSU has attended that conference, so a lot of people there were unfamiliar with us until now. They told us they were really impressed with our program.”

Their adviser, Rebeca Book, says the students have made their department proud.

“So many times you hear of other universities receiving awards,” she said. “So when our students go to conferences and win, our buttons are bursting with pride.”

For more information about Pittsburg State University, visit the PSU Web site.
For more information about Plastics Engineering Technology programs at PSU, visit the department Web site.

---Pitt State---