The science behind the World University Games medals created at Alfred University


PUBLISHED 2:41 PM ET SEP. 8, 2022

ALFRED, N.Y. — Who can forget the Miracle On Ice?

For some, it seems like it happened just yesterday, but it’s been more than four decades since the Olympics were last held in Lake Placid.

However, this winter, thousands of athletes will be taking over the Olympic Village as it prepares to host the World University Games.

The medals, which will be presented to the winning athletes, represent a true New York state effort and one that’s also sustainable.

Making something spectacular begins with the right recipe.

The materials Charlie Bellows is mixing may not look like much in the beginning. But by the end of this process, they’ll be spectacular.

The materials Charlie Bellows is mixing may not look like much in the beginning. But by the end of this process, they’ll be spectacular.

“They usually call it magic because it kind of is,” Bellows said. “I’m still blown away by some of the transformations that happen and I completely understand the physics and chemistry going on at the atomic level.”

The physics and chemistry of making glass is something doctoral candidate Bellows knows a lot about.

“You always have to be wary of objects upwards of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit within this space,” Bellows said. “Each of these slivers will be cut, polished and become a medallion.”

The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University is making key components to podium medals for this winter’s World University Games in Lake Placid.

At the core of each medal is a recycled glass disc, icy blue in color, which, when hit by ultraviolet light has a luminescent glow.

“Actually it’s kind of a joke around here that we do better under pressure and fire,” said Gabrielle Gaustad, dean of engineering.

The project is also part of Bellows’ thesis. When looking at colleges his family took a trip to the nearby Corning Museum of Glass. He was enamored.

“Yeah, it’s just mind-boggling because when I started my project, it was just kind of something that I had interest in and there obviously are a lot of applications for this stuff but it’s really interesting to see that come to fruition,” Bellows said.

Sustainability was key in the design of the medals, thus the use of recycled materials, which come from plants in Attica and Potsdam. Bellows is from Ballston Spa, north of Albany. All coming together in a school with a growing reputation for glass.

“Alfred University and the New York State College of Ceramics, we’re often called a hidden gem being nestled down here in the valleys in the southern tier of Allegheny County,” Gaustad said. “However, we really don’t want to be hidden. We want everyone to know about the amazing things that we’re doing down here.”

It’s something spectacular thanks to physics, chemistry and the right recipe.

Alfred will produce glass components for 800 medals, 250 of which will be awarded to winning athletes at the World University Games in January 2023 in Lake Placid.

Original Article