Ayman Karmi is a drummer. He loves playing jazz on his kit with other musicians. He’s also a materials engineering major. And now, the Iowa State senior is merging his two interests to innovate for a better world. Karmi, along with more than a dozen other students and faculty collaborators, is working on an idea to recycle discarded plastics into 3D printing filament that can be used to print musical instruments or vital parts like drumheads or mouthpieces for saxophones.
“What really excites me about this project is how we can have an impact on my community in so many ways,” said Karmi. “We can get people involved in recycling. We can teach people about the possibilities of 3D printing. We can get students involved in innovating.”
The REFORM Project (Recyclables Evolved from Offscouring Remade to Music) is just one of many progressive innovations being nurtured through Innovate at Iowa State.
Innovate at Iowa State is an interdisciplinary approach to developing big ideas, facilitating conversations, and promoting execution. Even more than that, Innovate at Iowa State is a mindset and a worldview for students and faculty who want to think—and act—beyond the traditional boundaries of education.
“Our students care less about specialization and more about coming together to be a positive force, and how they can contribute,” said Shan Jiang, faculty advisor for REFORM Project.
The key is that Innovate at Iowa State is helping everyone focus their desire to make a difference through specially designed facilities, programs, and partnerships. Iowa State students are empowered to reach across majors and colleges to find collaborators. “The diversity of students and faculty is an incredible resource at Iowa State. Everyone we’ve approached, from music professors to graphic designers to you name it, has been so helpful and helped us better understand our challenge or our approach to a solution,” said Karmi.
Working on prototypes is exactly what REFORM Project is focused on next to find their solution. The group needs to successfully print sample instruments or parts from conventional 3D filament. Simultaneously, they’ll be investigating how to best recycle used plastics into a material that is strong enough for regular use by the most committed musicians. There’s a lot of work ahead and they anticipate hitting a few flat notes. But with each member of the ensemble offering up their unique contributions—and Innovate at Iowa State serving as practice stage and performance space—REFORM Project’s innovation might just be a harmonious masterpiece.