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July 16th, 2012

ICC4: The beginning through a student’s eyes

Published on July 16th, 2012 | By: Bobby Harl

Registration desk at ICC4. Credit: Bobby Harl; ACerS.

Hello readers! First, I must say it is a great pleasure to be writing to you from ICC4. I would quickly like to thank the American Ceramic Society for the opportunity they have given me in this student blogger position and look forward to this exciting conference.

Today was the arrival day for ICC4. For me, this meant a rather quick flight from Nashville to Chicago, a city I’ve yet to visit. The Chicago Midway airport was easy to navigate and there was little difficulty getting to the Sheraton hotel where the conference was being held. At the airport the whole skyline is visible and as I got closer to downtown the more the city seemed like an ideal place for a conference. The picturesque buildings I’ve seen only rivaled by those in New York, despite being a devout Texan. While travelling on the shuttle I got to enjoy the happenings around the lakefront, as it was a quintessential, however hot, summer day.

After the flight and check in were all in order, my next exciting event was to meet my two mentors, Eileen De Guire and Peter Wray. Both Eileen and Peter are fantastic people if you ever get a chance to chat with them. Meeting two such passionate people was a complete delight, but they did not stop at just verbally preparing both Lee Leonard and I for out task ahead, Lee being my fellow blogger. The two of them took us around and introduced us to some of the people I certainly should know, which helped integrate both of us into the community.

The conference introduction and welcome reception were both must-attend events. Maxine Savitz, vice president of the National Academy of Engineering and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology gave the keynote address. She spoke of the enabling capabilities of ceramics, shedding light on some of the real opportunities in the field that we, as researchers, should be looking into. Most notably for me, it seems that nanomaterial ceramics have huge promise outside of sunblock. Laugh if you will, but while the ceramics in sunblock create and effective barrier it should not be the only application that could be quickly recalled by the average American consumer. Another particularly interesting note in her address was that we, the United States, have a large number of academia professors now not only applying for patents but also starting new companies in hopes of leveraging the new technologies.

At the reception, I got my first chance to really go around and meet people. I met professors from American universities, European universities, Asian Universities, national labs, and industry. The international nature of the conference was impressive, with many nationalities all coming together to discuss and devise solutions to some of the difficult questions facing the ceramics and glass industries. Encouragingly, there is exciting talk about the potentials of glasses to help in various biological situations, a field relatively unassociated with ceramics and glasses.

I’ve yet to be here 24 hours, and yet the conference is flying past. I look forward to the next few days and all the new colleagues I’ll meet and information I’ll adsorb. Stay tuned!


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