Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Degradation of Polymeric Granular
Composites (PI: John Bridge)

This ongoing research is centered around the thermal-mechanical characterization and strengthening mechanisms of polymeric granular composites that are used by many Thoroughbred horse racetracks and other equine sports surfaces. Current emphasis is understanding the degradation mechanisms of the material components as they age over time. Testing of the extracted polymeric binder shows that chemical oxidation is occurring which is hypothesized to change the mechanical properties of the track material. These changes, in turn, can adversely affect the racing performance and safety of horse and jockey.

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Development and Characterization of a Novel Orthopaedic Bearing Surface Material (PI: Cassandra Wright)

The use of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) inserts in total joint replacements (TJR), including total knee replacements (see Fig. 1), results in wear particle-caused osteolysis, the predominant cause for prosthesis failure and revision surgery. UHMWPE particle generation is inevitable despite the numerous efforts in improving this material. This project seeks to further develop and modify an enriched UHMWPE material (patent pending) that will serve as a drug delivery device to mitigate osteolysis. Students performing this research will compression mold, test and characterize modified polymers.

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