Years ago, at a summer youth camp experience, Jackie Drazan first developed an interest in rocks.
Today, having followed that passion for geology, Drazan is close to completing her master’s degree in earth and environmental sciences at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her time in the Swenson College of Science and Engineering has afforded her the opportunity not just to grow her knowledge, but also to apply it.
One highlight from this experience included taking on a real-world problem that Minnesotans face all too often, especially at this time of year: potholes. Drazan worked a summer job at UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) helping Larry Zanko, a senior research fellow, further develop and demonstrate a road repair product he had previously invented.
The product, which found a new use for leftover taconite (a type of iron ore) that would otherwise go to waste, is the basis for a U of M startup company. Advanced Road Patch, launched in 2016 with the help of U of M Technology Commercialization’s Venture Center, is now working to bring the technology to market.
“I thought this was a great idea. It turns mining waste into something positive,” Drazan said. “And when I teach undergrad classes, I can talk about ideas for excess material, and get them thinking about the full life cycle.”
Drazan said she enjoyed conducting experiments to make the product better, finding more efficient ways to deploy it, and scouting out potholes for demo sites.
Story posted in NRRI Website