exas State University’s Polymer and Advanced Materials Laboratory in the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park is now operational and working with industry partners.
The lab, which facilitates a broad range of polymer projects such as food packaging products, plastic film and storage, is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery that will be available to third-party corporations, students, faculty and staff as a fee-based service.
"You can’t learn how to use commercial machinery through books," Clois Powell, laboratory director, said. "The lab provides hands-on experience with the equipment, which is important to students when searching for jobs."
Texas State offers a bachelor’s degree and a doctoral degree in the field of materials science, engineering and commercialization (MSEC).
With a newly functional lab, graduate students will have the opportunity to conduct commercially important research with commercial-scale equipment. This, however, is just one of the benefits of the lab. The other benefits, Powell said, are the partnerships the university and students forge with third-party companies utilizing STAR Park facilities.
STAR Park is currently partnered with Quantum Materials Corporation, MicroPower and Systems and Materials Corporation, among others. With the introduction of the polymer and advanced materials lab, Tyler Nash, technical operations manager and research associate for STAR Park, said this provides the opportunity for greater collaboration with outside companies.
"The lab is beneficial to students, industry and the university," Nash said. "Typically, we get students involved in these projects, giving benefit to students, and Dr. Powell will be teaching a course this fall allowing students hands on access to the lab."
In addition to working with industry partners and aiding student research, the polymer and advanced materials laboratory technical staff provides training for those requesting permission to utilize the lab.
Training and appropriate qualifications are required before gaining access to the lab’s resources.
The lab is equipped with commercial injection molders, twin-screw extruders, impact testers, a gas barrier meter, a pelletizer and other equipment donated to, or purchased by the university.
The lab’s operational status comes after the Texas State University System Board of Regents authorized a 16,000-square-foot expansion of the STAR One research building. Expansions to the STAR One building will be complete by summer of 2015.