Polymer Chemistry Research Experience

Teacher and student in lab
Experience one week of intense research in Rensselaer's state-of-the-art polymer center and enhance their awareness of plastic materials.
July 27-31, 2020 | One-Week Program

This research program provides students with the opportunities to:

  1. Have hands-on activities of making samples by 3D printing of plastics
  2. Characterize and identify plastic materials using cutting-edge FTIR spectroscopy and thermal analysis instrument in polymer center at RPI
  3. Promote their understanding on the thermal properties of polymers, such as glass transition and melting temperatures, which will be the main consideration to dictate the usage of polymers in modern life
  4. Enhance their awareness of plastic recycling issues

Open to rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, the program offers an introduction to polymer chemistry, exploring fundamentals and then the real-world, everyday uses of different types of plastic materials, such as soda bottles, bottle caps, milk jugs, grocery bags, and so on. The program combines hands-on lab work with lectures aimed at expanding students' understanding of organic chemistry subjects.

Students will explore 3D printing of polymers through hands-on activities in which they will make 3D printed polymer parts, and will also learn the proper use of thermal analysis equipment to identify the glass transition and melting temperatures of plastic materials.  Specifically, during the laboratory sessions, students will acquire hands-on experience to operate and obtain data from Fourier Transform Infra-Red (FTIR) spectroscopy and specialized differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) equipment.  Many different types of plastic materials will be analyzed with DSC under the supervision of graduate students and faculty instructors.

Students will also contribute to the research group website of Professor Chang Y. Ryu.  Plastic sample analysis results will be summarized and archived on this website to acknowledge the students' excellent contributions in the program.  

Program Details

Prerequisites: Students looking to explore a career in science, gain valuable research experience, and/or are interested in chemistry are encouraged to apply for this program. Students must have completed or be currently enrolled in basic high school chemistry class. Applications will be selected based on GPA, science/tech/engineering/math related activities, student response questions, and teacher reference forms.

Application details: In addition to the online application, students must submit a copy of their transcript and two recommendations. Supplemental information — including recommendation letters, transcripts, and so on — can be photocopies and need not be originals or official copies. Please note that incomplete applications will not be reviewed, so be sure to follow the application directions carefully.

Registration information:  Accepted students should register as soon as possible after admission. Once a student has been accepted, they will receive a link providing additional information.

Application link: https://rpi.regfox.com/apply-2020

If you have any questions on how to submit your application, please contact Summer@Rensselaer by calling (518) 276-6809 or via email.

Commuter cost: $850.00 
There is a $425.00 non-refundable deposit required in order to reserve your spot in the program, once the student is academically accepted. Please note that this cost includes tuition and program materials only; commuters must furnish their own transportation to and from campus. Check-in will be on Monday morning; check-out will be on Friday.

Residential cost: $1,835.00
There is a $425.00 non-refundable deposit required in order to reserve your spot in the program, once the student is academically accepted. This cost includes tuition, program materials, field trips, room and board, and all residential activities. Check-in will be on Sunday afternoon prior to the start of the program; check-out will be on Friday.

Accepted students will receive information regarding accommodations, arrival/departure times, and full program details upon registration. Please note that all students will be required to submit health and medical information (including immunization records) before arrival on campus. All residential students must possess medical insurance.

Dr. Chang Y. Ryu is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and is Director of the NYS Center for Polymer Synthesis at Rensselaer. He has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Technology from Seoul National University. Upon earning his Ph.D, Ryu served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Calirfornia; he then went on to join Rensselaer in November of 2000, and later won the NSF CAREER Award in 2005.

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