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March 18, 1998

AESF Research

Recent Editorials may have given the wrong impression regarding the research activities of the AESF (American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Society). The following is intended to clarify any misunderstandings.

In 1919, Dr William Blum asked the then AES to help fund research efforts at the then National Bureau of Standards. This marked the beginning of the AESF Research Program, which over the years expanded its support to projects at primarily Universities and Colleges. Some projects at independent research centers and laboratories have also been supported, such as the early work on the use of Reverse Osmosis in metal finishing at the Ontario Research Foundation.

Since its inception the AESF Research Program has funded close to 100 regular projects and numerous Summer Grants. A regular project usually funds a period of 3 years and supports an area of major research, while a Summer Grant involves a short term study.

The purpose of AESF Research projects is to stimulate research in new areas of interest, and to act as the seed for further research, examples are Project R-86, The Deposition of SemiConducting Materials at John Hopkins University, and Project R-31, The Application of Reverse Osmosis to Electroplating Waste at the Ontario Research Foundation. The latter was pioneering work and we all know the status of Reverse Osmosis today. AESF Research played an integral part in the development of this technology.

Another purpose is to conduct research to develop a better understanding of mechanisms, eg., how additives work, or conduct studies that might not otherwise be done.

The Mechanism of awarding AESF grants is as follows:

  1. Each year solicitations go out to the various Universities, Colleges and Industry Institutions requesting proposals for projects. On certain occasions, specific areas of Research may be identified by the AESF Research Board, and proposals addressing these specific projects are sought.
  2. Proposals detailing the Research plan and activities, costs, time period etc are received by the Research Board and these proposals are subjected to examination and finally voting by the members of the Research Board.
  3. Based on the voting and funding available, projects of merit will be awarded usually a three year grant to conduct the Research. A Project supervisor is assigned from the Research Board to act as a liaison, review work and to ensure proper reports are submitted on a quarterly basis.

It should be noted that anyone can submit a project idea to the Research Board, and in fact ideas from individuals outside of the Research Community are most welcome.

The project work is conducted usually by a graduate student working on a Doctorate, and his/her work is supervised by a Senior Facility member.

The bulk of the grant money is used to pay for the students tuition, a small stipend to the student and project supplies.

Where does the money come from? AESF Research funds come from two sources. First, a portion of each AESF members annual dues is allocated to the Research Fund. Secondly, funds come from concerned individuals and companies who each year make donations to the Research Fund. There are three categories of contribution: Sponsor -- $ 250, Associate --- $ 500 and Patron --- $ 1000.

On occasion, a particular project may be of interest to an Agency or Company, and they will provide additional funding to ensure completion of the project.

What happens to the information and reports? The information and reports generated are published in the AESF Journal, and presented at Surfin. Full Project reports are kept on file at AESF Headquarters and are available to anyone for a nominal fee. The information is in the public domain. A list of all Research Projects is published each year in the AESF Publications Brochure which is free for the asking.

How can you get more information regarding AESF Research? Contact AESF Headquarters, and/or any member of: the AESF Research Board, the Research Sponsors Committee, or the AESF Board of Directors. To reach any of these, the AESF Web Site is Once in the AESF Web Site, go to Boards and Committees, and then select the Board or Committee of choice --- most members have e-mail capabilities.

Want to contribute to AESF Research. Simply contact any of the above and they will be glad to assist.

Why should we support AESF Research? For those of us who earn a living in metal finishing, this is a way of giving something back to the industry. We need to conduct research to nurture the industry and help it grow and prosper. AESF Research Projects also support research which may not be otherwise conducted and yet is vital to our industries growth.

In supporting AESF Research, we also aid students, many of whom seek employment in our industry upon graduation. Finally, you will get the "warm fuzzies" through knowing you have made a contribution to your industry.

In closing, the above does not answer all questions regarding AESF Research Projects, but I trust it provides a little more clarity. If you want more information, just ask.

Respectfully submitted

Ken Lemke

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