Engineering Academy student analyzes cutting edge swimwear
April 2, 2014
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TOWAMENCIN – What do scanning electron microscopes and competition swimwear have in common?
In January, the Engineering Design and Development (Nanotechnology) course of the NPHS Engineering Academy received, on loan, a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) from Hitachi to help aid the senior students with their nanotechnology research endeavors. Students utilized the SEM to analyze everything from piezoelectric nanofibers to polymers that capture and hold heat energy to lady bugs, flies and bees! With an SEM, it is possible to view an entire world that only exists far beyond our own capabilities.
Eve Kosten, a senior research student in North Penn High School’s Engineering Academy is also an avid swimmer. She has been swimming competitively for years and often wonders what makes the competitive swimwear work so well. She noted that “…these suits don’t even appear wet when you get out of the pool; the water seems to just run right off of the suit!” She said that she was curious to see what the fabric looks like up close and thought that maybe she could use Hitachi’s SEM to analyze it.
While performing SEM analysis for her research endeavors, Eve decided to contact several swimwear manufacturers, including Speedo and Dolfin, to see if they would be willing to send her some samples to analyze under the high magnification of the microscope. Little did she know that she was in for much more than she expected.
Eve received responses from Speedo and Dolfin. They sent her swatches to analyze; even swatches from suits that are not available on the market yet! She went through and methodically analyzed each sample, making note of the way the fabric was woven, if there were coatings on the fibers and what the swatches looked like before and after they were in the pool. She was able to run elemental analysis to prove that the chlorine remained in the fibers of the suit. When she completed her analysis, she sent the images back to the manufacturers for their review.
Dolfin quickly responded and asked if she could compile an engineering analysis report of her findings. In return, they offered Eve the opportunity to select a swimsuit of her choice from their complete competition collection at no cost.
Eve will be swimming for The University at Buffalo on an athletic scholarship with plans to major in engineering.