Competitive materials

As a materials science and engineering student in the Material Advantage club, I had the opportunity to attend the Materials Science & Technology Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The conference attracted materials students and professionals in academia and industry from around the world. Held in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center between October 8 and 12, it featured technical lectures, student competitions, industrial tours, and an exhibition with companies in the field, available to all who register. MS&T is one of the largest student-friendly conferences, attracting nearly 3,000 attendees—of which 27 percent are students.

This year, the Rensselaer Material Advantage student chapter funded three materials science and engineering students to attend the conference, myself included. Students participated in the Geodesic Dome Design Competition—Domes Day competition—hosted by the American Society for Metals, the Undergraduate Student Poster Contest, and the Undergraduate Student Speaker Contest. The Domes Day competition—a contest in materials selection—is designed to challenge students to create a dome that meets various criteria, such as high mechanical strength and general aesthetics. In the previous years, students from RPI presented domes built out of wood and steel, placing fifth and fourth, respectively, in the competition. This year, Justin Weinstein ’19 and I participated as Team RPI and designed a geodesic dome out of PVC pipes for the competition. I also presented a poster on my research in glass for the Student Poster Contest. Monica Mazur ’18 presented on biomimicry in materials science in the Student Speaker Contest. Finally, Material Advantage received “Chapter of Excellence” for the 2016–2017 academic year, chosen among 101 competing chapters, after having received “Most Outstanding Chapter” last year.

MS&T has been yet another packed conference for RPI Material Advantage, and the chapter hopes to bring success in the years to come. Student competitions at the conference allow students to challenge themselves and apply the skills they have learned thus far to real-life design problems. The poster competition pushes students to become involved in research and present their findings to fellow members in the industry, while the speaking contest pushes students to practice their presentation skills. Ultimately, MS&T is a wonderful opportunity to network with professionals in academia and industry while exploring a new city. I would highly recommend taking advantage of such an opportunity, especially while in college.

For more information, visit https://poly.rpi.edu/s/1can5 for the conference, and https://poly.rpi.edu/s/t4jtc for the RPI Material Advantage Student Chapter on campus. If interested, be sure to contact the chapter to learn about how to participate next year!