The Challenge: spark innovation to remove hazardous chemicals from children’s pjs
The Competition: 6 student teams, 24 hours, Target HQ, Minneapolis, MN
The Winners: First Place: UMass Dartmouth; Second Place: UMass Dartmouth
Two teams of Engineering students placed first and second in a national competition to create safer alternatives to hazardous flame retardants used in children’s sleepwear. Working on a real-world problem under a tight time frame, team members used biomimicry and natural marine resources to create an alternative adhesive. Their novel solutions had to meet manufacturers’ quality and aesthetic requirements as well as regulatory standards for flammability.
Team advisor Tracie Ferreira, Associate Professor of Bioengineering, has explored ways to make polyester more flame-retardant using eco-friendly, natural nano-particles. She recruited UMass Dartmouth student volunteers for the first-time event and was thrilled when UMass Dartmouth teams prevailed against students from well-known textiles programs at North Carolina State University and St. Catherine University in Minnesota.
The winning team connected bioengineering knowledge of natural nano-materials to the process of thread-coating for safer fibers. They turned to marine sources for the fire-retardant adhesive and took a crash course in thread coating from Chancellor Professor Yong Kim. Target awarded the team a $2,500 cash prize plus a $15,000 grant to further develop the concept.
On the winning team: Anna Church ’20 (Peabody, MA), Alec DaSilva ’22 (Dartmouth, MA), Antonio Olivieri ’20 (Shrewsbury, MA), Ian Sullivan ’22 (Rehoboth, MA), and UMass Dartmouth students also took second place in the competition with a proposal to use a natural protein to make fibers flame-retardant. Those team members: Dylan Bryda ’20 (Falmouth, MA), Quinn Kennedy ’20 (Holden, MA), Jonathan Lake ’21 (Blackstone, MA), Alexis Lannigan ’21 (Swansea, MA), and Ian Smiley ’20 (Rehoboth, MA), all bioengineering majors.