Nova Chemicals and Polytechnique Montréal recently completed a three-month pilot program that brought the company’s Bonfire film development platform into the classroom. Graduate students in the Chemical Engineering program used the software to simulate package designs for the final project of their Polymer Packaging Engineering course.
The Bonfire platform allows users to design and improve complex multilayer films using simulations instead of costly experiments. For students, it opened a window into what it’s like to be a packaging engineer. They were introduced to various methods of film modeling and saw how it was possible to identify the most promising structures and reduce the number of trials necessary in designing experiments.
Students were enthusiastic for building unique structures through lessons learned from their course and the Bonfire platform library and modules.
“This partnership enhanced student learning and gave them a useful platform to explore different structures and assess the mechanical, barrier, and seal properties of designed packages,” said Zahra Kordjazi, research associate in the 3SPack Industrial Research Chair, who helped coordinate the program with NOVA Chemicals.
“The amazing assistance from NOVA Chemicals’ experts, Dr. Bronwyn Gillon and Erica Canavesi, made this a wonderful experience. By defining potential projects or combining the designed structures with specific experiments, we’re hopeful that this collaboration will continue to bring value to our program in the future,” Kordjazi added.
NOVA Chemicals had various drivers behind this program, including Eric Vignola, NOVA Chemicals’ polyethylene market management leader. He was integral in establishing the relationship between NOVA Chemicals and Polytechnique.
“Participating in this program gave students real-world knowledge that will ultimately make them more attractive to the workforce. It was incredible to see their passion for the industry grow and to help them learn more about their role in creating sustainable plastic packaging in their future careers,” he said.
This program builds on NOVA Chemicals’ genScience initiatives, which are focused on the next generation of STEM employees. It follows a recent commitment from NOVA Chemicals of $600,000 to the Let’s Talk Science program in support of STEM education across Canada.
NOVA Chemicals says it plans to continue bringing the Bonfire platform to more schools across North America. Students gain a working knowledge of resources they’ll need in their careers while providing valuable feedback on the platform’s usability.