Reflecting on 20 Years of Excellence and Innovation

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The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) hosted over 60 alums for the 20th anniversary celebration on November 7, marking decades of innovation and excellence in teaching professionals and scholars across the globe. 

With attendees dating back to the Class of 1989, to recent graduates of 2022, the department welcomed alums to the festivities with three-dimensional Testudo keepsakes made by MSE graduate student Jess Garnett, engraved chocolates and branded mouse pads.  

Beginning with welcoming remarks by Chair JC Zhao and Professor Aris Christou, members of the community gathered on Tuesday morning for a breakfast session that would prepare guests for a trip to the past, present and future of materials science at the University of Maryland (UMD).

The growing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a subject of exploration at MSE, and Professors Ichiro Takeuchi and Robert Briber know exactly what role it will play. During their lecture, “AI for Materials Science,” the researchers dove into machine learning and other technologies that will revolutionize the study of materials. 

Next to AI is a next generation of safer, fast-charging electric vehicles. At the anniversary, Professor Eric Wachsman, who leads the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute, told guests where the future of solid-state lithium batteries is heading during his “Modern Battery Technologies” lecture. Other researchers are focused on developing solutions to reduce our carbon emissions, such as Professor Bing Hu’s research group, whose talk showcased developing wood technologies. 

In the afternoon, UMD President Darryll J. Pines, an engaged member of the community, gave remarks during lunch and introduced the graduate poster session, where over 15 students showcased their work on current materials science research. Senior Vice President and Provost Jennifer King Rice was also a guest at the session held outside Clark Hall’s Zupnik Forum.

Some alums traveled far distances to reconnect with former classmates and long-time mentors, such as University of Toronto Professor Jason Hattrick-Simpers and Assistant Professor Liyang Dai-Hattrick, who came back to their alma mater to honor retired Professors Manfred Wuttig and Alexander Roytburd.

Other attendees stood up in appreciation for the retired professors, such as Professor Shenqiang Ren and University of Connecticut Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Pamir Alpay, who recalled the role that Wuttig and Roytburd played in establishing their careers as faculty members.

The atmosphere of a close-knit community was visible during the celebration, where alums showed interest in giving back to the department by extending a gift, networking with students and sharing their expertise with the department. Some faculty members, such as Christou expressed their gratitude for the university by extending a gift that would advance opportunities for the students. During the anniversary, Christou and Prasan Samal were recognized for their contribution to the first endowed scholarship with an engraved lithograph gift. 

Following the special recognitions, visitors took a short trip to some of the innovation hubs, such as the Zhao Lab for Additive Manufacturing, the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute and the Center for Materials Innovation. 

As the evening wrapped up, A. James Clark School of Engineering Dean Samuel Graham Jr. joined the celebration to honor members of the MSE Board of Visitors with engraved lithograph gifts created by undergraduate student Abigail Kittel, sponsored by Professor Tim Koeth, Amber Johnson, and their research groups. The anniversary ended with dinner featuring a custom cake, followed by a night of music, entertainment and giveaways. 

Stay in touch with the department by following us on Linkedin, and find photos of the day-long celebration on Flickr


Published December 4, 2023