Don’t Swet the Small Stuff

Jackson Swets ('25)
Jackson Swets ('25)

April 12, 2023
Hunter Hauser ('23)

Jackson Swets (’25), a mechanical engineering major, has received the E. Richard Booser Scholarship from the international Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers.

In fall 2022, Swets began student research for Harman Khare, an assistant professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science who specializes in tribology, the study of friction or interacting surfaces in relative motion.

When Swets talked with Dr. Khare about research positions available, he “did not know what tribology was at all.” But with Khare’s guidance, Swets found a perfect opportunity, working with composite materials (produced from two or more materials bonded together).

Specifically, Swets is working on composites as solid lubricants, evaluating a material called alumina or aluminum oxide mixed with Teflon, and the wear it has on various metals, especially in no-moisture environments, like space, or extremely high-heat environments and high-pressure environments.

However, the use of solid lubricants does not stop there. Swets explains solid lubricants could be expanded into biomedical arenas.

“Since solid lubricants are so light, you could start replacing joints and things like that,” said Swets.

This research is new, and the reactions created between the composite material and the tested metals have never been seen before.

With Swets’ discoveries of this composite material and its low wear on certain metals, he submitted a research proposal to the professional tribology society, which awarded him the E. Richard Booser Scholarship worth $4,500 to encourage his continued research.

Swets plans to present his research this summer at the organization’s annual meeting in Long Beach, California.

For the upcoming years at Gonzaga, Swets plans to continue his research in tribology and expand to other fields if given the opportunity.

“I really want to do research as a profession. I really enjoy research and I am happy I have this opportunity on campus,” said Swets.

Learn about engineering opportunities at Gonzaga.