RIT Launches New Plastics Packaging Center for Applied Research

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NSF-funded lab features $800,000 in new equipment

Note: Digital photograph available

Rochester Institute of Technology’s undergraduate packaging science program, one of only six in the nation, has launched a new Integrated Plastics Center for multidisciplinary, applied-research projects.

Using the lab, which has $800,000 worth of new equipment, students and instructors develop cost-effective packaging by evaluating and characterizing plastic materials used in packaging. RIT was awarded $289,204 from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program to help launch the 1,100-square-foot center, located in RIT’s Louise M. Slaughter Building.

Maria Rubino, assistant professor of packaging science and principal investigator, says a goal of researchers is to “maximize packaging systems” by avoiding excessive or inadequate product packaging and extending a product’s shelf life. Research partnerships with food, pharmaceutical, automotive and plastic-recycling industries are being sought, she says.

The NSF grant was the first of its kind received by RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology and, among all proposals, one of only about 25 percent that were awarded, says Rubino. She developed the lab with Elizabeth Carle and Seung Kim, RIT assistant professors of mechanical engineering technology in the College of Applied Science and Technology, RIT’s college of innovation.