MSU architecture student presents at international education symposium

April 13th, 2015 Comments Off on MSU architecture student presents at international education symposium

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Ryan Fierro, a third-year Mississippi State University School of Architecture student, recently presented his research at the 2015 North American Materials Education Symposium at Ohio State University.

Fierro, son of Mario and Sheila Fierro of Madison, Ala., began his research last summer under the supervision of Assistant Professor Jacob A. Gines.

Fierro was initially looking into the building product manufacturing processes for wood, glass, steel and concrete and their effect on the state of the atmosphere and the buildings in which they exist. However, in the course of his research, he shifted his focus as he began to understand more about certain byproducts that can be used as a substitute for Portland Cement, the chief binding agent in concrete.

Fierro presented these results, “Building Materials Stewardship and Sustainable Practices,” at MSU’s summer 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium.

“It was nice to get to really dive into something,” said Fierro, who decided he wanted to build upon his findings while serving as a teaching assistant for Gines this semester.

The replacement ingredients Fierro came across during his summer research became the center of his new work. He outlined the ways various substances similar in nature to cement can be used and the effects such use would have.

“By its very nature, the production of Portland cement is catastrophically bad for the environment,” said Fierro. “For every pound of cement produced, an equal pound of CO2 is released into the atmosphere.”

Fierro hopes his research can provide solutions to this egregious situation and serve as a referential guide for any builder or designer curious about the substances he studied.

Impressed by his work, Gines encouraged Fierro to submit to the 2015 North America Materials Education Symposium.

“The United States is the third largest producer of Portland Cement in the world, producing over 77 million tons a year,” said GInes. “India is number two, producing 280 millions tons, and China leads the way with around 2.5 trillion tons per year. The environmental impacts of producing Portland Cement are well documented. Ryan’s research is eye-opening and informative regarding various alternatives to Portland Cement as a key ingredient in concrete.”

Both Fierro’s posters – including his most recent, “Mapping the Regional Landscape of Building Materials,” – were accepted for presentation at the rotating international education conference, which brings together material educators.

“Being around people that were interested in the same things that I am was a breath of fresh air,” said Fierro.

“Presenting to a room full of material scientists and engineers can be daunting for an undergraduate architecture student,” said Gines. “But Ryan did an amazing job and won the respect of many in the process. His work was very well received by the audience.”

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