KSU students test NASA’s standards on gloves

Nate Stuart

Thanks to the assistance of 13 Kent State students, a local rubber company can tout its gloves as being more credible.

The testing for NASA-approved rubber gloves began last year, when the White Rubber Corp. in Ravenna needed a scientific test to prove its gloves were more flexible than their competitors. The corporation decided to team up with Kent State to get the proof they needed.

Kent State students tested the rubber gloves in Van Deusen to match NASA’s standards.

“We used the tests (from NASA) and applied them to the electric linesmen’s gloves (made by the White Rubber Corp.). It helped with their ads and their credibility,” said Darwin Boyd, assistant professor in the College of Technology.

The results were written in trade journals and used in White Rubber Corp.’s marketing. Boyd said using the test results was so successful for the company that it had to hire an entirely new production shift to meet product demands.

“By using NASA’s work, we got something we couldn’t have gotten any other way,” Boyd said.

He said they only used the tests from NASA that applied to their situation. He also pointed out that NASA spent a lot of money developing these tests, and they were available to them to use for glove testing.

Some of the tests performed were the bolts test (one with and one without the gloves where they had to pick up bolts and put them in a bowl, then they had to put them together), a grip test and a pinch test. Boyd said they found the similar results as NASA did, which encouraged them.

“If you have a glove that is more flexible, you are less likely to get cumulative injuries and incidents,” Boyd said.

Seth Keeble, a student in the College of Technology, was in charge of conducting the tests and recording the data. His test subjects consisted of 12 male students between the ages of 20 and 39.

“The learning experience was great, and I’m sure I will benefit greatly when it is on my resume,” Keeble said.

He also said trying to keep the tests error-free was a difficult challenge that required the test subjects to work for three different days.

White Rubber Corp. was a client of the Small Business Development Center directed by Tom Southards in the College of Technology.

Southards said the testing cost the company a little more than $12,000, but the company was reimbursed $5,000 because they participated in the Third Frontier Internship Program.

He added that sales for the company have risen significantly because the test results give customers more confidence to buy the gloves.

Boyd said helping local businesses was part of the College of Technology’s mission.

“That’s what we’re supposed to do,” Boyd said. “The company couldn’t afford it any other way. We were familiar with it so we helped out. When you’ve got a local company and you help make them successful, then everybody wins.”

“Helping a local business is a good feeling, and to see how they have benefited is even better,” Keeble added.

Southards said White Rubber Corp. has been in Ravenna for more than 50 years. In the last 20 years, he said it has expanded in size, and in the past 10 years, it has started making other products besides gloves.

Southards also said the university has four reasons for existing: Students should get experience, the experience should go beyond the classroom, they should benefit the local economy and help both the university and the local businesses.

He said the university has the tools to help local businesses be more successful.

“Companies should recognize that Kent State is a place to come (for help),” Southards said.

Contact technology reporter Nate Stuart at [email protected].