Materials Day Highlights & the Diversity in STEM Workshop

Materials Day 2018 Tackles Grand Challenges

The Materials Research Institute hosted Materials Day 2018 over two days in October, highlighting some of the grand engineering challenges facing society in the 21st century. In six breakout sessions featuring experts from industry, government, and academia, attendees heard discussions of new, environmentally friendly methods for solid state cooling, designing the smart cities of the future, energy harvesting to power the multitude of emerging devices, nano self-assembly of polymers for societal needs, and the future of intelligent design and manufacturing. Continuing the theme, our keynote speaker, Linda Sapochak, division director of the Division of Materials Research, National Science Foundation, spoke on the importance of the convergence of multiple disciplines in solving the grand challenges in materials science and engineering.

MRI director, Clive Randall, updated the audience on the state of MRI, which is vibrant and looking ahead to another successful year. Students and researchers pitched their research at a lively poster session that drew over 100 presenters, while companies and organizations staffed tabletop exhibits around the ballroom. It was a remarkable event for the materials community at Penn State and a grand opportunity to show visitors the breadth of Penn State’s research capabilities.

A Day for Diversity in STEM

The day leading up to Materials Day was devoted to a workshop on diversity in STEM fields. Held in the Millennium Science Complex Commons, with 100 attendees, including students, faculty, and staff, a sense of true community could be felt as discussions delved into both painful and hopeful spaces. With an introduction by Dr. Marcus Whitehurst, Penn State’s vice provost for Education Equity, followed by a riveting talk by NSF’s Dr. Linda Sapochak, titled “My Life in Science,” attendees then shared their experiences at Penn State in lively round-table discussions. The day was completed by a panel discussion and an opportunity for networking. Thanks to the organizers from MRI and the Center for Nanoscale Science, whose hard work made this event memorable.