Graduate Students Play an Integral Part in MBI Research
Clayton Hires graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in 1999, and he soon began his professional career as a Refinery Process Supervisor at various sugar refining plants. A personal goal to pursue higher education, combined with a growing interest in the high tech industry, led to his application and admission to OSU, where he’s pursuing a Master's degree in Industrial Engineering within the Nano/Micro fabrication program, along with a minor in Material Science.
Clayton's Master's degree work is related to a project funded by DOE/Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy that seeks to combat the environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption by developing sustainable renewable energy sources. The MBI is the project lead, and project partners are CH2M Hill and Voxtel, Inc.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells have long been an attractive alternative, but current manufacturing practices suffer from poor energy efficiency, large carbon footprints, low material utilization, high processing temperatures and high solvent usage. The challenge for the MBI team is to adapt laboratory-scale deposition techniques to larger substrates for pilot demonstration at MBI. The idea is to develop pilot production capabilities that companies can use to learn about the technology for adaptation and integration into their production.
Clayton’s role is to consider how to produce uniform flow fields within the deposition step to achieve uniform coverage of films on large substrates.
Since he's already worked in the "real world," Clayton finds that he is attuned to the importance of unifying theory and practice: “Having the opportunity to once again experience an academic environment after working in industry has really helped me bridge the gap between theoretical and realistic events. My role and involvement with MBI gives great exposure to the next step, scaling realistic laboratory events to a practical manufacturing level."