July 2009 Archives
We have just passed the half way point of this summer, and it has been very productive for me. I am working at my third internship in engineering, and attending my second summer class. After this summer is over, I will only need to take 4 more classes and 1 lab to graduate.
Hopefully, I will be able to get a full time job. My first choice would be to get a job offer from my current employer, Teleflex Medical. However I know that the economy isnít very strong right now, so I will definitely apply myself to a few other places.
Next spring I hope to be working full time and taking one or two night classes. I want to try to get my masterís degree part time. Hopefully a few credits will transfer from my undergrad and I can get my masters in a couple of years.
Looking into job requirements for entry level engineers, I see that most companies want education and experience. They typically ask for a bachelorís degree and 5 years experience, or a masterís degree and 3 years experience. So if I work my way through my masterís degree, I could get both education and experience at once. This appears to be my best solution to accelerating my career.
It looks like it will be a hard path, but I am excited to brave the challenge. I hope everyone reading this is having a productive summer as well.
So this past weekend I began working on my research project. As I have previously mentioned in my blogs; my project is to mix a commodity plastic, polypropylene, with recycled rubber material from tires. These materials were compounded using a twin screw extruder in the basement of Ball Hall on North campus. Me and a grad student were in the laboratory from 9am until 9pm.
Polypropylene was mixed with two varieties of the recycled rubber, 140 mesh and 200 mesh. What that means is that the tires were ground down and fed through a sieve, where 140 mesh has 140 openings per square inch. So larger particles get caught in smaller meshes where finer particles fall through. Batches of 80% PP, 20% rubber; 60% PP, 40% rubber; and 40% PP and 60% rubber, were compounded for each of the two mesh sizes. We are also testing the effect of compatiblilizers, which are materials that are supposed to make the plastic and rubber cooperate better. We used an aliphatic and aromatic compatibilizer. The batches were 76.5% PP, 3.5% compatibilizer, and 20% rubber, for each compatibilizer and each mesh size. All of these gave a total of 10 samples.
This was the plan for Saturday, to make enough material for each batch to perform all of the tests we are planning to perform. However the actual processing was not as easy to perform as it was to describe. First, mixing ratios needed to be found, as you cannot just set the machine to a percentage. Both of the mixers were independent of each other, so their output needed to be measured. The material extruded had to be fed through a water bath to be cooled and into a pellitizer. Many times the strand broke and needed to be re-strung.
The worst part of this time consuming process was the smell of the burning rubber. It was almost like sitting in a car that was doing a 12 hour burnout, and spilling extremely strong black coffee all over yourself. However, the worst is now over, and the rest of the project should be easier.
The next step in this project is to injection mold these batches of material made this past weekend. They will be molded into tensile bars, flex bars, and impact disks for further testing. Some of the material will be tested in the pellet form it is in now. The light at the end of the tunnel will be a trip to a rubber conference in
This summer has been going very well so far. I have had a string of bad luck when it comes to my car, but other than I have been having a great time. I spent this past weekend at my cottage in Vermont. It is so nice to have a place to get away to whenever I want.
I have decided to move in with my girlfriend next semester; we are going to be getting an apartment in the Lowell area. We looked at a place in Dracut last week that we both really liked. It was a two bedroom for $800 a month; it had a lot of floor space, two designated parking spots, and balcony. The best part of the apartment was the view from the balcony; you could see fox hall and most of east campus off in the distance. We each put in $40 to get our credit checked, which seems to be pretty common to renting. So we will find out this week if we are eligible to sign up for the apartment with a view.
It is a big step for me to move in with my girlfriend, but I think it will work out for the better. I chose not to live with the guy I have been living with this past semester. I feel bad about it because we are good friends and it puts him in a tough position. Other than that, I am excited to move into a new place and start a new academic year.
I am also starting a new summer class this week. I am taking U.S. History since 1877. Hopefully this and the apartment situation go well. I will be sure to write a blog about how things turn out. Enjoy the nice weather while it lasts!