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[Image above] ACerS EMA 2015 attendees enjoying the open-air networking made possible by Florida’s sunshine. Credit: ACerS

It’s a wrap: ACerS Electronic Materials and Applications 2015 closed the book on its sixth successful meeting in Orlando, Fla. last week.

“EMA 2015 brought together about 300 students, scientists, and engineers for excellent technical presentations, events, and networking,” says Shen Dillon (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), chair-elect of ACerS Basic Science Division and one of the meeting’s organizers. “This is my fourth year at EMA and the conference continues to be an annual highlight—I’m already looking forward to next year’s program.”

Dillon organized the meeting along with Geoff Brennecka (Colorado School of Mines) and Timothy Haugan (U.S. Air Force Research Lab), vice-chair and chair, respectively, of ACerS Electronics Division (ED).

Brennecka adds, “Once again, EMA brought professionals from around the globe to share their latest advances and insights.” Brennecka is right—EMA 2015 attendees represented electronic materials enthusiasts from more than 20 countries. That contingent delivered 250-plus presentations detailing the latest data in the electronic materials and applications world, providing rich fodder for discussions.

The conference began Wednesday morning with a kick-start talk by 3M’s Kent Budd and kept its pace through Friday evening’s closing festivities. (For more on the first half of the conference’s happenings, check out my CTT post from last week.)

EMA attendees closed a successful second day Thursday evening with a well-attended conference banquet and reception. Seasoned pros and newbies alike filled the dinner tables, continuing the career-building networking that was going on throughout the meeting.

During the reception, ACerS president Kathleen Richardson recognized Dillon, Brennecka, and Haugan for all their work to make the meeting such a great success.

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ACerS president Kathleen Richardson presents awards to EMA 2015 organizers (from left) Shen Dillon, Geoff Brennecka, and Timothy Haugan at the conference’s reception. Credit: ACerS

Haugan and ED secretary-elect Rick Ubic (Boise State University) also presented student awards at the reception, dishing out on-stage recognition to the top poster and presentation winners.

Christina Rost (North Carolina State University) snagged first place for best student presentation, “Entropy driven oxides: Configurationally disordered solid solutions and their structure-property;” second place went to Edward Sachet (North Carolina State University), “Extreme electron mobility in cadmium oxide through defect equilibrium engineering;” and third to Jon Mackey (University of Akron), “Analytic thermoelectric couple modeling: Variable material properties and transient operation.”

Gye Hyun Kim (MIT) secured first place for best student poster, “Effect of surface energy anisotropy on Rayleigh-like solid-state dewetting and nanowire stability;” second place went to Youngho Jin (Georgia Institute of Technology), “Microstructure and electrical properties in PMMA/ATO conductive composites with phase segregated microstructures;” and third to Jun-Young Cho (Seoul National University), “The effect of nanostructure on the thermoelectric properties of bulk copper selenide.”

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(From left) Rick Ubic, Gye Hyun Kim, Youngho Jin, Jon Mackey, Edward Sachet, Christina Rost, and Timothy Haugan after presentation of winners of the Best Student Paper Award at EMA 2015. Credit: ACerS

In addition, Haugan says, “This year EMA selected and highlighted Young Professional Network speakers in nearly every symposia and provided them with registration support. The conference continues to emphasize student participation—approximately 20% or more attendees are usually students.”

Though Friday was the final day of EMA 2015, there were no signs of slowing at Hiroshi Funakubo’s (Tokyo Insitute of Technology, Japan) plenary lecture, “Domain motion under applied electric field in Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 films and their contribution to the piezoelectric properties.”

After another full day of science-filled symposia, the meeting concluded Friday evening by departing from the standard script with a special session called “Failure: The greatest teacher.”

According to the session description on EMA 2015’s website, “The vast majority of scientific literature and conference talks report positive results, but there’s a lot to be learned from negative results and missteps as well.” Session presenters Ian Reaney (University of Sheffield, U.K.) and Brennecka got frank with the audience, discussing their own accounts of and perspectives on failed experiments.

Both Reaney and Brennecka provided honest and entertaining accounts of some of the biggest “whoops” moments they’ve had in the lab—and they weren’t all eurekas in the end.

Reaney presented one such project that he rather realistically retitled “How to make lousy materials and still do some good science,” providing a wise and honest glimpse into a lifetime of research.

Brennecka listed his take on the common sources of failure: blind incompetence, unethical behavior, hubris, unrecognized artifacts, ignorance, honest mistakes, and the reverse approach. While some of those mistake-makers can’t be avoided, others can—and that’s why it’s critical to learn from mistakes and missteps.

Both presenters provided a realistic account of research, noting that it’s a combination of the good and bad experiments that make the scientist. As Reaney put it, “It’s not if, but when, you get things wrong.” It’s ultimately how you move forward from those wrongs that can make it all right.

The session was a relaxed reality check to end the meeting because, as Brennecka put it, “As always, EMA 2015 was an enlightening, entertaining, and exhausting three days!”

Want more on all the latest electronic materials research? Download the complete conference program for a full list of events and abstracts or head over to our Flickr page to see all the EMA 2015 action!

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Ian Reaney presents an entertaining account of experimental failure at EMA 2015. Credit: ACerS


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ACerS president Kathleen Richardson (middle left) and executive director Charlie Spahr (middle right) with international attendees Paramjyot Jha (Thapar University, India) (left) and Manish Kumar (UGC-DAE Consortium for Scientific Research, India) (right) at EMA 2015. Credit: ACerS

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Hiroshi Funakubo delivers the third and final plenary lecture at EMA 2015. Credit: ACerS

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NC State materials science and engineering professor Jon-Paul Maria (center) and his lab members at the EMA 2015 banquet. Credit: ACerS

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Networking around beers and failure at Friday night’s session. Credit: ACerS