George Kiriazes, an undergraduate research assistant in the Laser-Plasma Lab at the Center for Directed Energy, learned first-hand that experiments often have unexpected twists and turns.

One of his research projects is to develop a 3D-printed buoy that can withstand direct sun exposure and saltwater while still being functional.

This summer he placed four small 3D-printed bobbers made from PETG and ABS with different coatings in a canal near the TISTEF facility on the Space Coast to see how the coatings did against the sun and saltwater.

“A few weeks later, we learned that a new investi ‘gator’ had joined our research team and had added ‘taste’ to our testing criteria,” Kiriazes says.

Turns out alligators, commonly found in Florida canals and waterways, had taken a bite out of Kiriazes’ experimental buoys.

No worries, he is back at the drawing board figuring out how to make the next set of prototype buoys gator resistant. It’s all part of the scientific process.