Meet Erik Zdanowicz!
Erik Zdanowicz was awarded first place in the Engineering category at this year's Graduate Student Research Symposium. His winning poster is entitled Nanocoining Optical Features for Anti-Reflective Surface Generation.
Zdanowicz has been part of the Wolfpack since his undergraduate years. Originally from Hendersonville, NC, he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at NC State. He knew that he wanted to study engineering, and he also knew that NC State was an excellent choice for engineering. Although he decided to work for a year after earning his master's degree, Zdanowicz came back to NC State to pursue his doctoral degree. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering.
Staying at NC State for his graduate career was an easy choice. As a master's student, Zdanowicz studied with faculty who were ". . . engaged in interesting research and they were very helpful in explaining opportunities." He enjoyed his work at the Precision Engineering Center (PEC) during his master's program and was fortunate to find another interesting research project for his doctoral program.
Zdanowicz says he was always interested in the workings of different mechanical devices and having an aptitude for physics and math helped him choose engineering as a field of study. the most fulfilling part of his current graduate studies at NC State ". . . has been the theoretical and practical lab experience I have had at the PEC. Being able to derive equations and model how a system should behave and then performing the experiment and analyzing data are rewarding. I have learned so much from the hands-on work I get to perform as well as the interactions with faculty and staff members."
The objective of Zdanowicz's doctoral research is to rapidly produce large areas of nanostructured coatings. Nanostructured coatings are seen in nature -- a moth's eye, a butterfly wing, and a lotus leaf. Nanostructures can be thought of as little bumps on a surface that are usually 200-1000 nanometers in size. The size and spacing of the bumps determines antireflective, hydrophobic, and hydrophilic properties, among others. Zdanowicz has focused on nanocoining -- a new manufacturing technique that uses an indenter with a small stamp area. In fact, the area is so small, he says that ". . .the challenge is depth control and alignment in the nanometer range while still indenting1000 times per second." And he hopes that his research could be implemented practically in a manufacturing setting. Zdanowicz would like to see ". . . antireflective sheets generated using this technique applied to photovoltaic cells which should increase the efficiency quite a bit."
As for the Symposium, Zdanowicz states it was fun to interact with people from different departments and to see the other types of research going on at NC State. He said that his poster wasn't very difficult, but reaching a good balance between images and words was a bit trickier, since he's more of a 'visual learner'. And being visual, Zdanowicz recommends using images and color to draw people to a poster -- he believes that if a poster is more entertaining, it will be something that will capture peoples' attention.
During his 'down time', however, Zdanowicz is still a bit of an engineer! He says that he enjoys ". . . programming microcontrollers and have completed many personal projects including a range finding, autonomous robot and a musical spectrum analyzer." He also finds time on the weekends to watch soccer and enjoys visiting his four-month-old niece, Sophia, in Chapel Hill.
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