The department of materials science and engineering has again swept the annual International Metallographic Competition, winning seven ribbons and anchoring Lehigh’s reputation as one of the world’s top facilities for metallography research.
The weeklong competition, hosted recently by the International Metallographic Society (IMS) in Nashville, Tenn., provided a forum for the technical proficiency and artistry of scientists and engineers from around the world.
Judges awarded a single undergraduate Lehigh team the top two prizes in the competition, making it the first team ever to win both in the same year.
Based on the quality and creativity of their analysis of a trombone connector from the mid-20th century, the team won the George L. Kehl Plaque, the top prize for undergraduate projects, and the Jacquet-Lucas Award, the equivalent of a “best in show” title.
Two other Lehigh teams won second place in their respective categories, another placed third, and another received an honorable mention.
The teams were composed of materials science and engineering majors in Mat 206: Processing and Properties of Metal, which is co-taught by Wojciech Misiolek, Loewy Chair in Materials Forming and Processing, and Samuel Lawrence, a research scientist who directs Lehigh’s metallography laboratory.
The students use light optical and advanced electron microscopes to analyze the component materials in metals. They draw conclusions about how and why a material possesses properties that make it more effective, either mechanically or economically, for a specific function.
They analyze the makeup and functionality of materials from alloys to ceramics to polymers. To display their findings, they create posters that are judged at the competition.
An early sense of accomplishment
Misiolek and Lawrence say their goal is for students to take ownership of every step of a project while gaining a sense of accomplishment in the metallographic community.
“This is a great opportunity for undergraduates to excel,” Lawrence says. “Every year in Mat 206 a large faction of students are ready to step up to the plate. Whether they are going on to grad school or looking for jobs in top companies, this gives them a huge accomplishment very early on.”
Lawrence, who provides coaching and technical expertise to the students, is himself a former participant in the IMS competition. As an engineer for Bethlehem Steel, he won the Jacquet-Lucas Award in 1996 and served as judge from 1997 until his appointment at Lehigh in 2008.
This year, Lawrence was appointed to the IMS Board of Directors. He also won an honorable mention in the black-and-white photography category.
“What’s really important about the competition,” says Lawrence, “is that it offers professional development for students while putting Lehigh on the map.”
The student teams are judged in the competition for preparation, clarity, accuracy and relevance.
Christopher Marvel ’12, William Lenthe ’11 and John A. Logan ’11 formed the team that won the Kehl and Jacquet-Lucas awards.
Michael Barron ’12 and Jill Erbrick ’12 won second place in the undergraduate category, while Vincent Mulroe ’12, Cristina Ponte ’12 and Peter Reiseman ’12 took third.
J.C. Sabol, a graduate student in materials science and engineering and the teaching assistant in Mat 206, placed second in both the metals and color microscopy categories.