It’s Not Just Rocket Science - It’s Polymers!


Recently, representatives from NASA reached out to the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering’s Akron Polymer Technology Services (APTS) to customize a course in material science for their technicians.

NASA technicians make their own rubber components for their technology, and they need to stay up to date with new technology and research in materials in order to improve their processes. APTS is a leading resource in the polymer industry and offers dozens of classes in rubber and material science across different disciplines. But the normal class schedule wouldn’t quite work for NASA scientists, so APTS and instructor Jim Halladay (pictured) teamed up with NASA’s lead technician to devise a solution.

They selected five courses involving material science, such as rubber chemistry or rubber design and engineering, and combined certain aspects of each of them into 4 days of content that suited NASA’s needs. Halladay taught the customized seminar, which 20 technicians attended from December 3 until December 7 on site at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

D. Malik Thompson, an Engineering Student Trainee in the Nonmetallic Materials and Advanced Manufacturing Division, reported that the seminar had been a success. “Here at NASA we hold our relationship with universities and other academic institutions to a very high regard, and we look forward to working with [CPSPE] in the future,” Thompson said. “Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to pick [Halladay’s] brain on a few concepts and finding ways to improve our processes.”

APTS looks forward to opportunities in partnerships with organizations like NASA, which are important to improving methods across the industry in the future. After all, NASA says it best: "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind."