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HBCU Writers's Project
For Immediate Release
January 09, 2013
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Rabia Muhammed
Florida A&M University

(BPRW) FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Student Strives to Better Nigeria's Economy

(BLACK PR WIRE/FAMU-TALLAHASSEE) "" Renee Gordon, a first year doctoral candidate at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, is changing the steel industry with the use of cassava leaves.

Case hardening is a process used to strengthen the steel that is used for gears and tools in factories and cars. The materials typically used for this process are deadly and expensive. Through her research as well as a collaboration with Obafemi Awolowo University and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure located in Nigeria, Gordon has discovered something that will not only change the steel industry but will also bring in revenue to the country.

"This process is both economically and environmentally safe," said Gordon. "It's perfect because with this process they can do anything within the country."

Most developing countries have a shortage of spare parts and tools, especially in the automobile industry. Through the use of cassava leaves, Nigeria will have a chance of producing automobiles in-house, providing jobs and generating revenue for the country without outsourcing.

"These experiments are very important to the development of science," said Dr. Decatur Rogers, dean of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. "This is actual research that can be used and this is what we are here for."

Nigeria is the number one producer for the cassava plant. Although it is not native to the land, they have adopted the plant and have used it as a source of nutrition and income. The leaves and peels of the cassava plant contain a large amount of cyanogenic glucose, the substance used to case harden steel.

The leaves of the plant are placed in a holding container with the steel molding. It is then placed in an oven and baked until the case hardening reaches its preferred thickness. The result is an outer case that is wear resistant with a ductile inner core. Through the use of cassava plants, the cost of production and the waste of natural resources will decrease.

"We can be comfortable and not indulge ourselves with un-renewable materials," said Gordon. "We can have a healthy balance between mankind and our environment."

Gordon is doing more than revolutionizing the steel industry. Through her use of MatLab to conduct her experiments, she is revolutionizing the experimental process. She recently had the opportunity to attend a seminar that focuses on the MatLab software. MatLab is software that uses mathematical modeling to demonstrate an experiment. This software allows researchers to conduct experiments without worrying about the costs of materials and time.

"MatLab software is amazing," said Gordon. "It's really helpful because I can conduct a lot more experiments without worrying about the cost of materials."