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Through a grant from the National Science Foundation, RIT is seeking to create new curricula in green plastics that will both enhance the educational experience and further pedagogical development in sustainable manufacturing.

"There is an increasing need to transform the existing university curriculum in materials and manufacturing engineering to keep pace with new green technology advances that are being implemented in numerous industrial sectors," says Spencer Kim, associate professor of manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology at RIT.

Through the project, Kim and his team are developing new practice-based educational models that incorporate the growing body of research in green materials, polymer blends, and hybrids. The goal is to provide our next generation of engineers and designers with a comprehensive understanding of the refined manufacturing processes associated with sustainable production.

"Students will be better prepared for work in this emerging field as more companies transition from using petroleum-based plastics to more green materials, such as biodegradable polymers and eco-friendly hybrid materials," Kim adds.

The group is modifying a number of existing courses, including materials technology and plastics processing, and creating new course work in green plastics and sustainable polymers. The learning modules developed will also be integrated into the department's undergraduate research and senior design activities.

"Our educational models need to match with the changes happening in all industries," Kim says. "It is our hope that this effort will serve as a model for green engineering education and ultimately help promote the sustainability revolution."