Students Visit Scientists at Analytical Answers Laboratories in Woburn, Mass.
November 14, 2011
On November 3, students in Ellen Miseo’s Consumer Chemistry course visited Analytical Answers, Inc. in Woburn, Mass. Analytical Answers is one of the largest independently owned microanalysis, surface characterization and failure analysis laboratories in the United States.
“As business students and future business leaders, they could be faced with the need to understand technologies, tools and scientific positions that will impact their businesses,” says Miseo, who is an adjunct assistant professor of natural and applied sciences. “Learning about these factors in a non-threatening class is a more productive learning environment than sitting across the table from a scientist and not understanding the information at hand.”
Students met with scientists who were able to communicate ideas in a non-technical, non-threatening way and who have turned their scientific background to business. Presenters included:
- Dr. Jay Powell, who explained both spectroscopy and infrared microscopy, using a technique called Gas Chromatography with infrared spectroscopy to analyze compounds in vanilla, mint and lemon extracts.
- Drew Killius, who discussed microscopy, particularly optical microscopy. Among the topics: foreign materials, including insect parts, found in common foods such as flour, as permitted by the FDA; and a failure in a motorcycle fork due to poor design and a poor manufacture.
- Doug Coppinger, who talked about x-ray microscopy with a demonstration of pictures that showed the moving, working gears of a watch, and a failed electronic thermometer.
- Joe Bedard, who discussed electron microscopy and how it can be used to look at electronic parts to see failures at sizes that are well below those accessible by optical microscopy. Demonstrations included a failed circuit board, and the ability to identify the elements present on the surface to differentiate solder from a contaminant.
The visit concluded with a Q&A with Dr. John Buono, president and owner of Analytical Answers.