Freshman finds unique lab at UALR
Hunter Dunne, a freshman systems engineering major with a focus in mechanics, has been working on an anti-icing research project at CINS.
According to Dunne, anti-icing coatings can potentially be used on automobiles or the surfaces of aircrafts. He said the goal is “to create a surface that repels water in hopes to repel ice.”
“Many labs in the country are experimenting with anti-icing materials,” said Ganesh Kannarpady, a research assistant professor at CINS. “But only a handful of labs are investigating how to use nanotechnology to create anti-icing coatings.”
Dunne chose UALR to continue his research on the ant-icing agent because he couldn’t gain the same experience in any other lab. The combination of equipment used for researching anti-icing coatings can only be found on UALR’s campus.
Kannarpady said he selected each machine carefully and designed others himself.
“I got an email saying there were positions open in the nanotech lab,” Dunne said. “And thought it sounded interesting.”
Dunne graduated from the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts; a residential high school for students gifted in mathematics and science.
At ASMSA, all students have to complete a science fair or final project in Fundamentals of Research Methods. Dunne chose to focus his FIRM project on his anti-icing research.
Dunne won third place in his science fair competition at ASMSA. The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army also recognized his research project.
Traci Logsdon, the communications and outreach coordinator at CINS, said “[Dunne] is very intelligent in a relatable way. Sometimes in science, it’s hard to explain [what your doing, but] he is able to discuss the matter in a way that is understandable.”
She said a student of his caliber could have attended nearly any school of his choosing.
Dunne volunteered his time in the lab for 30 to 40 hours a week during the summer and is expected to be in the lab 15 to 20 hours a week throughout the semester.
“You don’t need to tell him to come to the lab,” Kannarpady said. “He is always happy to be here.”
“Working in the lab is fun,” Dunne said. “My favorite part is taking pictures and explaining [what my research is about].”
Dunne hopes to pursue a graduate degree in aerospace engineering at the Michigan Institute of Technology after he graduates from UALR. He wants to pursue a career designing and building aircrafts for NASA and apply some of his research to the designs.
“Space really is the final frontier, and I want [space travel] to change for the better,” Dunne said. “Sixty years after the Wright brothers took flight, we landed on the moon. We are [approaching] 60 years from sending the first man to the moon but what else have we done [in regards to space travel]?”
Until then, Dunne plans to stay involved with CINS and publish some of his findings on anti-icing research.
He hopes his research at UALR can influence space travel in a way that will help him achieve his goals.
“[Dunne] is a next generation student [and] is a technological leader in our society,” Kannarpady said. “We can expect great things.”