Clean Oceans International is partnering with UCSC and Cabrillo students on data analysis for plastic to fuel conversion. Students of all disciplines are working in labs right now, analyzing plastics from beaches around the world and how they can be converted into diesel!
They are analyzing how these different plastic pieces burn within a spectroscopy machine and assessing what coastal areas are optimal to implement the machine! Through the IDEASS (Impact Design; Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service) program, undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct research with real-world applications.
Beginning in 2008, Clean Oceans international began to collect debris in Hawaii, Alaska, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Oregon and California. This was the basis of the research and data collection that soon was carried out and developed by the student research team.
Looking forward to the future, COI is seeking more visibility and funding for their campaign. Additionally, they are looking forward to collaborating with local artist to paint a mural on Mission Street in Santa Cruz. The mural is planned to be phased in over the next couple of months outside of Bayview Elementary school in order to reflect the vision and goals of the non-profit.
To the students of UCSC and Cabrillo, this project is much more than an interdisciplinary research opportunity. It is a way to implement their education into the real world and achieve tangible results! One fourth year Chemistry student, Zachary Schwartz characterizes the hands-on learning that is central to every IDEASS project here at UCSC, “I joined the project for the opportunity to both further my knowledge in material science by studying plastic in a laboratory setting as well as have the opportunity to apply my chemistry knowledge to a real-world issue in hopes of solving it. For me, the most valuable part of the project is the process of completing it. There are unexpected obstacles that appear when executing the project and the ability to be resilient when circumstances change is key to being successful. I am excited to analyze plastics in the laboratory and communicating the results if they are positive.” Students involved range from environmental studies majors, Physics majors, chemistry majors, you name it. They are all joined together by their passion to solve this problem. Another student on the team, Adelicia Johnson, characterizes their union perfectly by stating, “Coi to me is a collaboration of different professionals, students, and world citizens that want to solve the plastic problem. It is a project that shows genuine concern and drives towards making a positive impact on our oceans pollutants.”
The partnership of COI international with UCSC and Cabrillo students and faculty is a reminder that change in possible through interdisciplinary work, communication between boundaries, and confrontation of world problems through innovation.To learn more about COI visit https://cleanoceansinternational.org/
Written by: Antonette Brito-Berti