Q&A with Kayode Oluwabunmi winner of a $,1000 Scholarship for his doctoral research from SPE

Kayode Oluwabunmi

Mechanical & Energy Engineering's Kayode Oluwabunmi attended the 2018 Polyolefins conference in Houston Texas in February. He received a $1,000 Scholarship award to use towards his doctoral research from the Polymers, Materials, and Additives Division of the Society of Plastic Engineers (SPE).

We met up with Kayode to find out more about Society of Plastic Engineers (SPE) and how the organization has tied into his experiences here at UNT. 

Q; Tell us a bit about the Student organization SPE

To begin with, the acronym SPE stands for the Society of Plastic Engineers. The word ‘Plastics’ in it is broad and was adopted for the organization about 75 years ago when plastics were most commonly used for making ‘Velcro’ for zippers and were mostly produced from the ‘olefins’ which are obtained from the fractional distillation of crude oil. However, the plastics industry has evolved into a colossus and is an encompassing word for other types of polymers and plastic related materials like; polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS) and even the new generation Fiber reinforced plastics and composites (FRPs) and also plastics made from biomass and even foams. Nowadays plastics find applications in all spheres of life from medicine, aerospace, automobiles, construction, electronics, information technology, defense, and security; amongst other.

The UNT student chapter of the society of plastic engineers is a forum that provides an opportunity for all students irrespective of their discipline to get acquainted with how the plastics industry can impact their line of study.  It also creates an avenue to share ideas, build tangible networks that will be instrumental to their growth and development as potential leaders of tomorrow. This we try to achieve by organizing seminars, webinars that showcase the unimaginable impact that plastics are having in the world of today through its applications. We also try to invite industry professionals to have a live discussion with student members so that while still in school the mind of students can be fully exposed to the practicality of what they are learning in school. This is in addition to visiting industries that are into production of plastics and its related materials. This we do in conjunction with Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering (SAMPE). The activities of UNT chapters of SPE and SAMPE are been supervised by Dr. Nandika D’ Souza and Dr. Witold Brostow. The UNT chapter of SPE is a member of the global body which is an international organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and education for all plastic professionals. It was founded in 1942 and is home to over 20,000 plastic professionals.

Q; What got you interested in being a part of SPE

I have a background in Materials Science and Engineering, where I learned about the various applications of different materials. However, some few years back I learned about how new technologies were been developed to expand the use of plastics for various applications such as in medicine, building, and construction and also for improved water filtration. Upon being admitted to UNT I realized through my interactions with senior graduate students that there was a forum called SPE which provided a platform for learning more about plastics, so I joined them.

Q. What’s been your favorite thing you’ve done while involved in SPE? Why?

The favorite thing I have done ever since joining the SPE is attending the polyolefins conference. This is an annual gathering of all professional in the polymer industry.. It creates the opportunity to listen to latest discoveries in the polymer world, has a first-hand view of the relevance and importance of polymers and plastics to our world. I always look forward to it.

Q. Why do you feel it’s important to be involved in an organization like SPE?

The importance of being a member of SPE is enormous, the large professional base of the mother organization gives you an opportunity to network and establish firm contacts with industry professionals who could help with useful information and even provide needed materials and support for students mostly those who are into research. Secondly, it provides students an opportunity to attend conferences and present their research to the world (with all expenses paid). Thirdly, it opens up avenues for scholarships to deserving students. Additionally, being a member of the body creates an opportunity for students to develop their leadership skills when they take up elective positions. Industry people are looking for students with good leadership skills, who are also good team players.

Q. How does SPE benefit MEE Students and/or what would you say to potential MEE Students who are thinking of joining?

Joining SPE will open up the world of the plastics to MEE students in a way which they never knew existed. There are a lot of MEE courses that will be better understood and more real with an involvement with SPE, such courses include, Mechanics of Materials, Materials Manufacturing, Lightweight Structures and possibly Air Pollution etc. MEE students will see how building insulation foams can influence energy consumption and HVAC systems in a building. More importantly, MEE students will better understand the different types of plastics that exist and their varying mechanical applications and how they can be characterized.

Q. What made you pick MEE/UNT engineering?

I picked MEE/UNT engineering because of the diversity of the program. The Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering in UNT is one of a kind. It brings other engineering disciplines together and tries to find a mechanical application for them. Also, the location of the department in a building called ‘Discovery Park’ was a stimulator that always gave me the feeling that I was coming to an environment that will facilitate research discovery

Q. What are your career and educational goals?

Before commencing my Ph.D. program, I had worked as a Research and Development officer in a federal government establishment in Nigeria for about over 3 years.  Currently, my Ph.D. dissertation is on the development of a new class of eco-friendly and recyclable rigid foam insulation materials for buildings and construction which will provide optimal and dual thermal and sound insulation and can also be used for other mechanical applications. With the knowledge been acquired from my present research and course of study, I plan to work further as a Research and Development professional in relevant industries in the United States after graduation.

Q. What makes you bleed green? (UNT Spirit question!).

Been good to other people that come my way and the readiness to lend a helping hand makes me bleed green.


Kayode Oluwabunmi
Kayode Oluwabunmi receiving the $1,000 scholarship award. Awards were presented by Imani Bahrani and Dr. Thio Ho on the 27th of March 2018 on behalf of SPE.