An earth-sized congratulations to senior Technology & Engineering Education student Kayla Devosa on winning TerraCycle’s third annual Ernel Simpson Innovation Award for environmental innovation. Kayla’s work through her senior design capstone project and commitment towards reducing the amount of polylactide (PLA) plastic produced in prototyping activities have earned her this honor. The award is complete with a $500 stipend to help continue her research.
TerraCycle is an innovative recycling company based in Trenton that has become a global leader in recycling the things that are trickier to recycle. Kayla’s efforts and designs align closely to TerraCycle’s own mission of eliminating waste. Her project focuses on 3D printing and the huge amounts of waste currently being created from failed designs and support materials. She proposes the use of an affordable and classroom-safe PLA Filament Recycling system to lower how much plastic is being sent to landfills without interfering with necessary 3D printing prototyping practices.
“As a Prototyping Lab Supervisor in Armstrong’s Maker Space, I see how vital 3D printing is to the field of engineering and engineering education. Consequently, in rapid prototyping there are large sums of inevitable PLA plastic waste from the support material and failed prints. Upon further researching PLA, I found it is not accepted by most recycling plants. Additionally, although PLA is biodegradable, it can take 100-1000 years to decompose in landfills where there is limited oxygen and sunlight. Therefore, I wanted to help lessen the environmental burden of the work I do everyday and will continue to do in my future classroom.”
“For future research, I hope to improve the efficiency of the system’s electrical usage and the consistency of the filament that is produced. I would also love to use the system in my future classroom to recycle my student’s failed 3D prints at the end of the year.”
When asked what saving the Earth means to her, Kayla says, “As a future STEM educator, saving the planet means I get to help preserve the Earth for my students to enjoy. I want to show my students that they can also have a hand in helping to save the Earth by exposing them to projects in sustainable design and recycling systems.”
– Anisa Lateef ‘22
Kayla Devosa TEE ‘22.
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