KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Kaiserslautern Middle School students visited the Army Oil Analysis Program laboratory, here, Feb. 18, to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Dr. Davoud Tehranfar, AOAP scientist. This was the first time the students had been to the laboratory.

AOAP is a Department of Defense program that detects impending equipment component failures and determines lubricant conditions through on-line and laboratory evaluations of oil samples.

AOAP Laboratory-Europe provides commanders in Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia oil analysis capabilities at the Kaiserslautern Army Depot. The lab's primary mission is to accept oil samples from both aircraft and ground-based vehicles, then analyze them for flaws and inconsistencies. After receipt of the samples, the lab has 24 hours to analyze and report back to aviation commanders and 72 hours to ground commanders.

"I am amazed at the amount of work and scientific expertise that goes into this process and makes me even more excited about STEM. I would like to pursue this type of job in the future," said Timmy Rey, KMS 7th grader.

"It is a relatively quick process to sample the lubricants in a piece of equipment, an action that can save hours of maintenance downtime through early detection of such problems as faulty air-induction systems, leaking cooling systems, loose crossover lubricant lines, and abnormal wear rates of moving metal parts," said Tehranfar who has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry.

The students learned from a true expert in the field of science. Tehranfar has been working in the AOAP laboratory since 1996 testing lubricants for the U.S. Army.

He walked the 18 students through the process of extracting the oil sample, inspecting by microscope, and electrically testing for impurities. A successful AOAP helps ensure the reasonable usage of natural resources while avoiding unnecessary waste.

Beginning in the 1950s and through the 1960s, the U.S. Army and Air Force developed the AOAP as not only a way to measure the machine condition, but also as a means to monitor the lubricant itself. Since then, the program has been adapted by a variety of companies to be used globally for many more reasons.

Tehranfar explained the STEM literacy, or the ability to understand and apply concepts from STEM to solve complex problems, which goes well beyond the traditional STEM occupations of scientist, engineer and mathematician. He also emphasized that testing oil samples is much like collecting forensic evidence.

"A lubricant analysis is a diagnostic tool, which gives us a picture of the internal condition of a component or system without taking it apart," he said.

Thomas Heck and Konstantin Gross, U.S. Army Garrison-Rheinland-Pfalz hazardous management professionals, discussed the proper handling of hazardous and toxic products in public schools and in the home environment. They introduced the students to everyday products they likely did not realize were hazardous and the precautions needed when handling and storing these items. Heck and Gross also showed the group the new international marking system for hazardous materials. Until recently, countries had similar pictorial markings but they were not uniform. The U.S. and European communities agreed on a uniform marking system that is now widely accepted and recognized.