Archive for July 19th, 2012
You are browsing the archives of 2012 July 19.
You are browsing the archives of 2012 July 19.
My hats off to the ICC4 for taking a risk—one that in retrospect was clearly worth it—to offer and hold two opportunities for 25 participants each to enter an “interactive technology presentation,” which is a fancy way of describing a nontraditional poster session that offered entrants the opportunity to extend the boundaries of the traditional two-dimensional posters (and open up unlimited new ways of interacting with the presenters’ audiences).
The 25 entrants that signed up for either of the two nights had the opportunity to use Samsung-provided large screen video displays to use along with, should they choose, a traditional poster-on-display board. The idea was to allow researchers the opportunity to drill deeper into their work and offer observers more detailed information, simulations, videos of observations and test rigs, libraries of SEM and TEM images, live links to other references, etc.—all while retaining the quick, nonlinear learning and networking experience that one can get from traditional poster sessions.
Most participants made heavy use of their Samsung monitors to display videos, PowerPoint slides and Adobe Flash presentations. Many supplemented their electronic and poster offerings with samples of prepared materials and prototype units. I found at least one participant who eschewed the Samsung monitor in favor of a presentation developed entirely on his iPad.
As someone who has bemoaned the lack of innovation in poster sessions, I was totally impressed with the creativity and energy brought by the participants, and I tried to capture in the above video some of the examples and varieties I found. In many ways, the idea was to “raise the bar” for excellence in poster sessions, and I think the organizers and participants really exceeded my expectations in this regard.
Participating in the event and seeing the examples of what others had done triggered new ideas: nearly every entrant I talked with had lots of new ideas for how they might modify and elaborate on what they presented, and, with one lone exception, felt the extra time it took to develop the interactive components was well worth the effort. Along these lines, my sense is that the Interactive Technology session was a learning experience for the organizers, too, but they deserve an unbelievable amount of credit for creating the opportunity, minimizing the rules and encourage participants to take chances, arranging for the monitors and technical support, plus a hundred other small things that went into making this aspect of ICC4 a great success.
Moreover, I’d like to thank everyone involved with this session for blazing a new trail. I considered this the “beta” test of the concept. We haven’t begun to explore, for example, the use of live Internet connections, smartphones and touchscreen displays (which, unfortunately, are still quite expensive and complicated to offer in these settings), but I definitely get the sense that ideas for the 1.0 and 2.0 versions of such interactive sessions are already in the works among the organizers for future materials-oriented meetings.
Everyone connected with ICC4, ICF, ACerS, NSF, Samsung and the other supporting organizations deserves thanks for making it possible for the ceramics and glass community to be among the first—perhaps the very first—science and technology group to attempt to pull off such a feat, and to accomplish it so well is just icing on the cake.
Wednesday night has arrived, the night of the ICC4 gala. When I was interviewed for this scholarship, the gala was described to me, and I have been anticipating it ever since. Let me give you some flavor for how this event really made for a fantastic climax to the conference.
The event was held in the modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. The building itself was interesting itself as it is a LEED certified green building. The architecture comprising the building really made it a work of art itself and really showcased the exhibits therein. The exhibit reserved for the ICC4 crowd included several Picasso paintings and a variety of other equally impressive modern artists.
What I didn’t know before going was that Kathy Faber, who is one of the many people responsible for both the success of the gala and the entire ICC4 conference, is actually involved with the research conducted at the institute. There were two speakers at two Picasso works discussing what types of information that research had yielded. At the Red Armchair, Francesca Casadio gave an overview of their interests in the composition of the paint Picasso used to achieve the texture and final finish of his works. As it turns out, his choice in paints traced back to ceramics, which they were able to figure out via collaboration with Faber’s research group.
To understand the painting, Francesca told us of the variety of methods they used to understand the painting with as little damage as possible. From the surface, a handheld XRF device was used as a first brush to see what kinds of paints were used. Then, before they could take a more invasive sample for tests such as SEM and TEM, they first conducted those tests on a variety of old and new artist paints that would have been available to Picasso. The electron microscopy yielded very specific difference in the particles that composed the painting materials and how Picasso used them. Understanding at a basic level what is in the paints (e.g., lead or zinc oxide for whites), they can then begin to understand what kinds of materials mixing the artist used in order to obtain some of his signature colors and texture, on a budget.
After the exhibit, we filed into tables for an exquisite dinner. I was fortunate to have been able to sit at a table of the other student scholars from America, Europe, Asia and South America, and conversations about our cultures and languages filled the dinner (see picture, right). During dinner, we heard from a variety of people including George Wicks and Kathy Faber, who addressed the crowd with ease. Each of the sponsoring US and international organizations was recognized, an act that emphasized the international nature of the conference. This last dinner really highlighted how, as a community, the scientists involved in the research, either from academia, national labs or industry are actively interested in working to solve difficult problems and want to learn and work with one another to make that happen.
Tomorrow the conference will come to a close, and I’ll be heading back to my lab. There is still excitement on the agenda, and I look forward to the final few talks.
Wednesday was another busy day at the 4th International Conference on Ceramics. In addition to plenary and invited speaker sessions, there were several activities at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. I will try to touch upon some of the day’s highlights in this blog.
Because I am a biomedical engineering major with a strong interest in biomaterials, I decided to spend most of my day at the Biology and Medicine tracks. The speakers in these sessions spoke about a variety of materials and processes relating to orthopaedic and dental applications.
In the morning Biology and Medicine track, invited speaker Edgar Zanotto from the Federal University of São Carlos discussed highly bioactive silicate-based glass-ceramics. Zanotto was followed by Serena Best from the University of Cambridge who spoke about improving the bioactive properties of hydroxyapatite through ionic substitutions. I thought it was very interesting that the two competing glass systems were presented back-to-back and that both systems had a definite place in orthopaedic applications.
In the afternoon session, Richard Rusin from 3M gave a very good overview of nanoceramics in dentistry. In addition to covering some of the basic science involved, he gave real-world examples of where his company made improvements in dental care with its products. Also during this session, Jean Baptiste (JB) Lafon from 3dceram discussed his company’s use of a stereolithography process to make complete 3D ceramics parts; these parts have been used in clinical studies to help repair damage to patients’ skulls. As an engineer with a background in manufacturing, I appreciated how Lafon addressed some of the practical concerns with making these parts, such as the need for supports during the heat treatment process to prevent part distortion.
David Bem from the Dow Chemical Company was the afternoon plenary speaker. His talk resonated with me because it addressed the basic economics of technology development. Bem stressed that understanding the fundamental limits of a technology is critical when deciding whether or not to fund research. Bem used topical examples such as solar energy development and hybrid automotive technology to drive his point home. Although his talk was very general and not specific to ceramics, I enjoyed his presentation thoroughly.
In the evening, ICC4 attendees had the pleasure of a tour of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. I was impressed with the art that I saw there, which included the works of many famous artists, such as Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. During the tour, museum staff gave brief lectures on topics pertaining to the art housed at the institute.
Following the tour, ICC4 president, Katherine Faber, addressed the conference attendees. During her address, she was presented with mementos to commemorate her leadership and contributions to this year’s conference.
The dinner gave everyone a chance to relax and talk with fellow conference attendees. I was seated with a very nice group at my dinner table. To my left were Brooke Barta and her mother, Debbie. Readers of Monday’s blog will know that Barta is a graduate student from the Georgia Institute of Technology that I had met earlier in the week. To my right were Nathan Taylor and Eongyu Yi, graduate students from the University of Michigan that participated at the conference’s Interactive Technology Forum. Across the table were Cheryl Brayman and Kristopher Benson from Ceradyne, Incorporated. Ceradyne makes a variety of ceramic products including ballistic armor for US troups and is a corporate sponsor of ICC4.
It’s been a very exciting week with more great things to come. My next blog will include Thursday’s activities and some parting thoughts on ICC4.