Harvey Mudd Receives Chemistry and Robotics Grants

Last week, the chemistry department at Harvey Mudd College received a $470,000 grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation for new instrumentation. 

“In the chemistry department, we are always trying to maintain current, state-of-the-art instrumentation to use not only in research, but in our teaching laboratories,” HMC Chemistry Department Chair Kerry Karukstis said. “And, it was time to replace some of our instrumentation. It was a rather large request so we decided to go to a foundation to see if they’d support us.”

The Fletcher Jones Foundation, located in Pasadena, Calif., has previously supported HMC and the other 5Cs on various projects, such as helping to fund the creation of the HMC's Sprague Learning Studio.

Chemistry major Emma Klein HM ‘17 said that the grant will “make a big difference because a lot of our equipment is getting pretty old.”

Karukstis explained that the department intends to begin purchasing the instruments in the beginning of 2016, although some of it may take until the summer to fully set up. The department plans to buy twelve ultraviolet-visible spectrometers for the first-year chemistry laboratory that all students at the college take. They also plan to purchase a light scattering instrument for the study of polymers in the physical chemistry laboratory and two benchtop nuclear magnetic resonance instruments (NMRs), which is a new type of instrument that will be available in the first-year laboratory.

“In o-chem lab, NMRs are very useful and we only have one right now, and it’s a bit slow,” chemistry major Rachel Mow HM ’17 said. “When you have ten, fifteen people in a lab it can take a long time for everyone to get their work done. If we have multiple, it will make everything go a lot faster.”

Additionally, the engineering department at Harvey Mudd College has also received a $100,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation, which will go toward an underwater robotics tank. The tank will be used for both research and teaching, according to HMC’s website, including in the Experimental Engineering (E80) class, a course required for all sophomore engineering students.

Jesse Joseph HM ’17 said that the aim of E80 is to focus on a single project for the semester. Joseph said that an E80 class focused on robotics may be more difficult because underwater robotics is complicated, but some  interesting projects could come out of it.

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