By Jay Hansen
• $26,000 for manufacturing cluster with Fisher College of Business.
• $150,000 for recycling corps (funding student internships to implement recycling programs in towns and small cities across the U.S.).
• $175,000 for advancing sustainability (lightweight metal-based structures with the Institute for Materials Research).
Klaus Kleinfeld surveyed the room of students in front of him and posed a straightforward question:
“What do you want to take away from your education?”
There was a lot of variety in the answers. One student was looking to change the world. Another hoped to find a good job. A third wanted
an education to build a better life for her children.
These answers were just a part of the vigorous discussion that Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Alcoa, had with students from Fisher College of Business and the College of Engineering at Pfahl Hall last Wednesday. Kleinfeld was visiting Ohio State to announce more than $350,000 in grants the Alcoa Foundation is making to fund projects in manufacturing, recycling and sustainability.
As a part of the visit, three Ohio State students made presentations on projects they are tackling related to sustainability and recycling.
Steven Hansen, a grad student studying materials science, presented on a project that is exploring ways to join different metals without using filler or heat to create a more solid bond. This process would enable car manufacturers to build lighter car frames, and subsequently reduce the amount of energy a vehicle uses per mile.
“The great majority of energy a car uses in its lifetime comes during its usage phase,” Hansen said. “If you can reduce the energy used during that time, you can have a huge savings over the lifetime of a vehicle.”
Kleinfeld complimented the project and the way it addresses a current challenge facing the auto industry.
“This is one of the biggest industry changes,” he said. “The automotive industry is moving away from steel to aluminum because it improves fuel efficiency.”
Jonathan Hoge, a third-year student in mechanical engineering, discussed strategies to improve recycling in tailgate lots for Ohio State football games. He noted the success of the university’s Zero Waste initiative inside the stadium and saw expanding the effort to tailgate areas as a logical next step.
“We want to develop a long-term culture of proper recycling in tailgate lots and in the university in general,” Hoge said.
The third presentation was made by Fisher College of Business student Aaron Melchreit. He shared an idea for a reality television show called “Canners” that would focus on area residents who recycle aluminum cans as a way of making a living. Melchreit said he felt that the entertainment value of the show could help bring more attention to the importance of recycling.
“I want people to think about where your can is from, where it’s going,” he said. “When you don’t recycle, that’s an increased cost because you have to pay to go out and mine somewhere else. If you keep recycling, you can be drinking out of the same can your grandfather did.”
Kleinfeld complimented the students on their presentations but also encouraged them to use their college experience as a time to set even more ambitious goals.
“This is a very unique time in your life; you only have it once,” he said. “The best thing you can do is absorb as many different views as you can. Learn from others and never give up your passion and curiosity.
“Instead of following the easy path, go the right path. That is your best chance for success.”