Bowen Zhang, 29, was born in China and received his bachelor's degree in applied chemistry from Nanjing University and master's degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University. He joined Gates Corp. as a rotational engineer in 2017, then moved to process development engineer II in 2019 and process development engineer III in March 2022.
Zhang said his greatest achievement has been developing a new formula for Gates' Poly Chain product family to fit a new manufacturing process. "The development starts from lab trials with five to six polymer groups, and I narrowed it down to one chemical group that can best endure the working temperature and pressure. Then a series of lab tests and building trials have been set up to verify all the static and dynamic performance before one formula is finally selected," he said.
His first plastics job required him to "dig deep into the polymer world with a lot of hands-on trials."
"The great range of prosperities of polymer just make it have a wide range of applications and by just changing part of the formula can make it fit for different process systems. I believe it will become the rising star material for the industry," he said.
At Gates, a Colorado manufacturer of fluid power and power transmission solutions, Zhang is working on "polyurethane development for our belt products, as well as material development for our plastic sprocket for mobility application."
Zhang said his "short- to mid-term goal" would be a material development manager role: "I want to use my knowledge to guide the team through the right material choice, manufacturing process as well as aiming the right application."
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Zhang: How to make the success in the lab or small-scale trial into manufacturing process is always the challenge. The factors to be considered include but not limited to material supply source, curing process limitation, operators' variations and financial consideration. It's never easy to accommodate all of these with the direct material exploration and development.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Zhang: Coextrusion technology for hoses is an emerging one that draws my interest. The elimination of mandrel and cost savings on the outside layer of the hose could become a new industrial trend.
Q: What steps have you taken to advance in your career?
Zhang: I always try to ask 'why,' 'what' and 'how' on work. I tried to learn the mechanism behind the job that I was assigned to. And I always go to talk with the subject expert in my company to enhance my knowledge and understand the hottest demand for the business. And I am always reliable on what is given so I am trustful to assume more job responsibilities.