Graduate student wins PPG MRL assistantship
Mechanical engineering doctoral student Jingcheng Ma was one of just five from Grainger Engineering to have been awarded a PPG Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) Graduate Research Assistantship to pursue cutting-edge research broadly related to the areas of interest to PPG.
PPG’s global community engagement efforts and the PPG Foundation aim to bring color and brightness to PPG communities around the world. The company invested more than $11 million in 2019, supporting hundreds of organizations across 38 countries. By investing in educational opportunities, PPG helps grow today’s skilled workforce and develop tomorrow’s innovators in fields related to coatings and manufacturing. Now in its fourth year, the PPG Foundation has donated more than $325,000 to the MRL Graduate Research Assistantships to support students and the University of Illinois community with new thought leaders at the MRL.
“My research focuses on understanding the dynamic interactions that occur between liquids and gases undergoing phase change and how thin polymer coatings can affect this process. Liquids experiencing a phase change to a gas or solid on surfaces, such as condensation, evaporation, boiling, and icing/frosting, is a common phenomenon occurring both in our daily lives and in many industrial processes. Controlling the behavior of the phase change process can be achieved by applying functional polymeric thin-film coatings on these surfaces. Therefore, it is important to understand the behavior and deformation of the coatings when phase change occurs on them. This research can lead to significant results that prevent coatings from undesired degradation. In addition, this research also provides new ways to fabricate functional thin film structures using phase-change liquids. Under the PPG-MRL assistantship, I primarily aim to develop durable thin coatings for enhancing heat transfer (specifically, condensation heat transfer) to increase the overall efficiency of power plants and reduce the carbon footprint on the environment,” said Ma, who earned his BS in mechanical engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China.
Ma works with Associate Professor Nenad Miljkovic in his Energy Transport Research Laboratory. “Jingcheng’s work provided very important guidelines to properly enhance coating reliability, and based on his work, we have developed and identified many robust coating candidates for long-term dropwise condensation (including PPG formulations through collaboration with David Walters),” said Miljkovic. “Jingcheng is always trying to grasp the bigger picture from relatively focused specific research, which is an important and very rare quality for a graduate-level researcher.”