Tech receives grant for green material database

December 20, 2012


David Norris explains that the grant will go toward an online green database for students and the public to save materials. – Photo by Sumeet Shrestha

Staff Reporter


Louisiana Tech has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to create green technology project.


David Norris, director of the Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center, helped Tech secure the grant.


“We competed nationally for the LA-i6; it was a United States Department of Commerce competition,” Norris said. “There were six awards given nationally, and we were one of those six. Louisiana Tech has a lot of strengths in creating innovations and developing those innovations, giving us a very strong competition.”


Norris also said that all projects integrate students, faculty and outside partners in the development of new technology.


A portion of the grant was awarded to a cross-disciplinary team for a proposal to develop a sustainable material database.


The database will evaluate items for its materiality, performance and environmentally sustainable characteristics.


One project the grant is being used for is the creation of a green materials database.


The online database will be accessible to architects, contractors, students and the general public, allowing them to save materials to a personal library.


The cross-disciplinary team developing the database brings together professors, graduate and undergraduate students from the schools of computer science, architecture and art.


Liane Hancock, an assistant professor of architecture, leads the team.


The team started building the database Dec.1 and the deadline for the prototype design is next July.


“The database will be an opportunity to find and select really interesting material for buildings, products and interior design,” Hancock said.


Each school has a different task with communication designers contributing to the project by working on the interface and organizing the data.


Computer scientists will work on developing algorithms to make sure the data is correct and to start up certain search routines. Individuals will be able to look for materials with their own parameters.


Architecture students will be also helping to develop the prototype.


To make sure the prototype will succeed, Hancock said the team will be contacting companies asking what kind of things they would like in a database, from the manufactures side and also to figure out what kind of materials will need to go into the database.


“There is an innovation class, Innovated Venture Research, David Norris teaches, that will be looking at the project and doing research on the possibilities of how to commercialize it and how the public is going to use it,” she said.


Hancock also said the database could be a great resource because the materials can be used in many ways to help students.


Communication design students will use the database for environmental graphics, like signage and to provide students with a way of looking at how we think about sustainability.


“A big portion of the economy is focused on construction and the issue of how you make buildings green,” she said. “So I think this is going to be a way to really understand a lot of the issues of sustainability.”


Nicholas Wagner, sophomore architecture major, said the database is a great idea that will help students make wiser choices when looking for greener materials to create a design.


“I want it to be global. I would love to see it become an important tool throughout the design field and for consumers,” Hancock said.


Email comments to kms042@latech.edu.


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