MSE Student Wins First Place at Third Annual SoE Poster Session

By Amanda Campanaro

John Sypek, third-year Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. student in Assistant Professor Seok-Woo Lee’s lab, won first-place for his poster in the third annual  School of Engineering (SoE) Poster Session hosted by the SoE’s Student Association of Graduate Engineers (SAGE). Sixty-seven graduate students in the School of Engineering presented posters in “layman’s terms” to compete for one of four monetary awards, and to get experience translating their scientific research into industrial use.

After an exciting display of research and many well-versed presentations, John was one of two first-place winners, while the second-place category was abolished.

“My poster research discussed the discovery of shape memory behavior in a novel intermetallic compound CaFe2As2, which has been extensively studied as an Fe-based superconductor,” John says. “This material can exhibit unparalleled superelasticity, over 13 percent recoverable strain, without any residual fatigue damage.”  This novel intermetallic compound represents a new class of smart materials with an extraordinary set of properties and the potential to be applied to high-precision and small-volume cryogenic linear actuation technology for space exploration.

The posters were judged by a panel of industrial professionals with broad technology entrepreneurship experience as well as some of the SoE engineering faculty. Among the seven judges were Kevin Bouley, CEO of Nerac, INC, and a member of the SoE advisory board and Bethany Javidi, a technical writer for the School of Engineering. There was also a popular vote by peers for best design and most marketable poster, among two other categories.

In particular, the students were expected to present their research with a non-technical audience in mind, with a three-minute oral presentation, followed by two minutes of questions and answers. The rubric to be used by the judges on the day of the competition is attached.

Due to the shape memory effect and superelasticity properties of John’s material, there is a potential for industrial applications such as small scale actuators for switching devices and more importantly in extremely cold environments such as deep space.

“I believe that my poster and presentation communicated the potential applications well. Despite the heavy scientific understanding behind the research of this material, the judges were able to get a clear understand of how this material functioned and how its properties could be exploited in the real world,” John explains.

Also of MSE, Drew Clearfield, fifth-year Ph.D. student in Professor Mei Wei’s lab, received honorable mention and Ayana Ghosh, second-year Ph.D. student in Associate Professor Serge Nakhmanson’s lab won the popular vote for “best design.”