Students arrive at Iowa State with great ideas. As they meet each other and connect with Iowa State faculty and resources, those ideas are given the opportunity to become life-changing, world-improving realities.
Growing up, Ayman Karmi didn’t have access to musical instruments. Today, the experienced drummer and recent Iowa State graduate has been able to merge his materials engineering major and interest in music to innovate for a better world.
Ayman, along with other students and faculty collaborators, is part of a project recycling discarded plastics from local schools into 3D printing filament. The filament is then used to print musical instruments or vital parts like drumheads or mouthpieces for saxophones, which go back to the schools for distribution.
“For me, this project is about resiliency and resourcefulness,” he says. “I realized how I could influence music education for children.”
“I love helping people and cleaning up the Earth, so being able to recycle plastics, which are virtually everywhere and a huge problem, is a big desire of mine,” says Connor Thorpe, a graduate student in materials science who also is part of the project.
—Shan Jiang, associate professor of materials science and engineering
Living in a materials world
Launched by Shan Jiang, associate professor of materials science and engineering, REFORM – Recyclables for Music – brought together students from engineering, music and theatre with a passion for sustainable solutions, reducing waste and making music.
“We live in world where the materials we produce are cheaper and perform better, but over time they accumulate. We need to think of the end of the lifetime of products and materials we produce. This project perfectly married fundamental research, innovation and students’ hands-on experience,” Jiang says.
Abby Stanlick, a junior in materials science engineering, adds, “This project also helps with recycling education, making it fun for schoolkids – they can see how recycling impacts them and get more excited about it through music.”
The initiative to innovate
The energy behind all this is the Innovate at Iowa State initiative, which engages multidisciplinary groups of students, faculty, staff and external stakeholders to help cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset, drive commercialization of research innovations and support small businesses and manufacturers.
“Iowa State is raising the bar for innovation on campus,” Ayman says. “There is an abundance of resources here to build a far-reaching, collaborative project like REFORM.”
—Ayman Karmi, 2022 materials science engineering graduate
Next generation innovation
Students arrive at Iowa State with great ideas. As students meet each other and connect with Iowa State faculty and resources, those ideas are given the opportunity to become life-changing, world-improving realities.
“What really excites me about REFORM is how we can have an impact on our community in so many ways,” Ayman says. “We can get people involved in recycling. We can teach people about the possibilities of 3D printing. We can get students involved in innovating.”