Student Profile: Sunil Bhandari

Sunil Bhandari – Assisting in the Development of the new Advanced Automated Structural Thermoplastics Lab

Sunil Bhandari
Sunil Bhandari

The Advanced Structures and Composites Center is currently undergoing a significant expansion in the development of two new laboratories. The first is the Wind and Wave Lab, known as “W2” and the second is the Advanced Automated Structural Thermoplastics Lab. The expansion of these laboratories brings total facility size to 100,000 sq. ft.

Sunil Bhandari, a graduate student from Pokhara, Nepal, is pursuing MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Maine and conducting research at the UMaine Composites Center. Bhandari began working at the UMaine Composites Center in September of 2014.

“When I applied for UMaine, I looked at the research that was being done here. I contacted Dr. Roberto Lopez-Anido and asked him if he would be my advisor. It was through him that I was offered this opportunity,” Bhandari said.

After being hired, Bhandari realized how special the center is for researchers.

“The lab is like a dream for someone like me; I don’t know how to describe it,” Bhandari said of the center. “All the equipment and research that’s going on here is awesome. It’s a great place to learn new things and expand your horizons.”

Bhandari is working with Dr. Roberto Lopez-Anido and David Erb to get equipment for the Advanced Automated Structural Thermoplastic lab, as well as writing grants to acquire funds to purchase equipment needed for the lab to be successful.

“I look for equipment and present it to Dr. Lopez-Anido and the Senior Research and Development Program Manager, David Erb. They’re leading efforts to develop the Advanced Automated Structural Thermoplastic lab and a new plastics industry consortium building effort being funded by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology called the Consortium for Manufacturing Innovation in Structural Thermoplastics (CMIST). Occasionally they will give me a portion of a grant to work on as new information comes in,” Bhandari said.

Bhandari also wrote a portion of the technical section of the grant proposal for CMIST, as well as working on 3D modeling and testing of 3D printed materials. He is also working on incorporating thermoplastic composites into structures, combining his civil engineering background with these novel material technology concepts.

In addition to the technical skills he has learned, Bhandari is quick to recognize the value of  writing and communication skills. “I’ve learned how the research proposals are written and how grants are awarded; it’s one of the important pieces of a project.”

“I still need to learn a lot. So I’ll go for my Ph.D. and after that I will have enough knowledge and insight in this field to have a career.”

Bhandari says the center is the place to learn and prepare him for his future.

“The center is geared towards helping students learn. People are really helpful and they understand that sometimes it’s difficult as an international student. The people here are great to work with.”