Features

Technology students working for a greener world

NIU technology student Nick DiOrio is all about the green…greener golf courses and a greener environment in general.

DiOrio, a senior from Wheaton, is one of several students working with Professor Robert Tatara investigating the feasibility of combining fillers derived from the making of ethanol with biodegradable resins to create plastic products that will breakdown naturally instead of cluttering the landscape and clogging landfills for hundreds of decades to come.

The team started with golf tees out of convenience (they already had a mold, and it was a logical application) but they are exploring other uses ranging from shotgun sporting clays to packing peanuts.

Their work is an excellent example of how careers in technology blend the old and new. The injection molding equipment they use has been a familiar part of the plastics industry for more than half a century, but the materials they are working with are so new that plastics companies are watching their progress closely. The project has also attracted funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Our students don’t just learn about challenges facing our world, sometimes they are part of the solution,” says Chair of Technology Cliff Mirman.

 - Joe King, NIU Public Affairs