The PPG Industries Foundation has donated $103,000 to the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) for programs in its engineering school and chemistry department. The funding supports PPG Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows in the Swanson School of Engineering, two PPG Industries Foundation Graduate Fellows in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the annual undergraduate chemistry laboratory poster session.
“These research-related experiences offered by Pitt’s engineering and chemistry departments promote academic excellence by encouraging students to develop a better understanding of how the scientific process relates to the real world,” said Sue Sloan, executive director. “Students participating in these programs will learn how to combine scientific learning and research with practical communication skills, which better prepares them for future professional opportunities in science and engineering fields.”
Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering received $50,000 to support 12 PPG Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships. The fellows, who are undergraduate engineering students, are working full-time during the summer alongside a faculty mentor, who may be from any department at Pitt or even from another university, on an approved research project. At the end of the summer, each fellow will submit a two-page abstract on his or her research to the department and to the university’s Science 2015 Student Poster Fair, the most prominent on-campus student poster session of the year, held in October.
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Pitt also received $50,000 to fund two PPG Industries Foundation Graduate Fellows for one year. Fellow Xiao “Sean” Ma, in the lab of assistant professor Kyle Bibby, has been working on drinking-water treatment and biofilm growth on antifouling coatings. Fellow Omkar Lokare, who is working with professor Radisav Vidic, is evaluating the potential of membrane distillation for treatment of produced water from unconventional gas industry. In addition to funding the PPG Industries Foundation Graduate Fellows’ research efforts, the grant funds opportunities for the students to visit off-campus laboratories, in order for students to see different intellectual and research environments and to enhance university-industry collaborations.
In addition, a $3,000 PPG Industries Foundation grant to the Department of Chemistry helped fund Pitt’s undergraduate chemistry laboratory poster session. Annually, more than 400 students enrolled in upper-level chemistry laboratory courses prepare posters explaining experimentation that they have conducted. The students’ posters and presentations are graded by faculty members, judges and peers who assess how well each student describes the goal, results, and conclusion of his or her research.
“The support PPG and its foundation provides to Pitt’s engineering and chemistry programs helps us offer research and enrichment opportunities to additional students,” said Gerald D. Holder, Ph.D. “The fellowships and undergraduate poster session offer our students experience in conducting important research projects and then developing skills to convey their methods and findings through posters and presentations, and to professionals working in non-university environments.”