Contributed by Brooke Mason, 2015 Ciba Award Winners, University of Toledo
I was honored ACS selected me for a CIBA travel award to attend the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, Oregon from June 13-16th. As an environmental engineering student, I was not sure if I would be selected since I was not a chemistry or chemical engineering student. I applied anyway because I believed I would learn a lot that could relate to my research as well as my future career in sustainability engineering! I also wanted to present my research on the life cycle assessment of photovoltaic cells that use carbon nanotubes (CNT), a project I’ve been working on for over a year.
My conference experience started on Monday with the Student Challenge. I did not know what to expect. To be honest, I was nervous I would not know enough chemistry to be of assistance to my team. I soon realized we were an interdisciplinary team, combining our strengths to create a sustainable solution to a problem in the pigment/dye industry. Through brainstorming, design charrettes, doodles, lots of sticky-notes, and ideas from students from across the world and across disciplines, we created a product that we believe would reduce water consumption in the textile dying industry by 25%! And to our excitement, our group was selected as the winner of the student challenge!
Tuesday and Wednesday I was in many interesting sessions, learning about green product development, the history of green chemistry, risk assessment, and life cycle analysis from many different experts from across the world! Wednesday night at the poster session I was able to talk to students, faculty, and professionals about my research. I even made a few connections that may provide opportunities for future collaboration. Thursday I learned so much about green chemistry in thin films, knowledge that is directly applicable to my future research.
Overall I had a phenomenal time in Portland and am so thankful to ACS to have been given this opportunity! I believe I will take everything I learned from the conference and apply it to my research, as well as leverage the information to help create a more sustainable future. I believe ACS will see a return on their investment as I hope to provide research that will further the field of sustainability engineering.
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