[Image above] Bill Headrick (left) receives the Global Ambassador Award from ACerS president Mike Alexander. Credit: ACerS

Bill Headrick is an ACerS member with a mission. A recent recipient of the Global Ambassador Award, he earned the award for his student outreach accomplishments, largely due to his efforts to get students to ACerS meetings—but more on that later.

Headrick has been an ACerS member since 1991. You may have met him at an MS&T or a St. Louis Section/Refractory Ceramics Division meeting, as he hasn’t missed a single one since he became a member.

Headrick is a ceramic engineer working in research and development for Missouri Refractories Company Inc. (MORCO). The company specializes in castables, plastics, and mortars and serves the steel, petroleum, and cement and lime industries. He holds a Ph.D. in ceramic engineering/refractories from Missouri University of Science and Technology.

And his ACerS membership has led him down an interesting path.

Headrick became a member when he was a student. “I was working on my undergrad degree in ceramic engineering and joined an ACerS student organization,” he recalls. “When you joined the student organization, you became a member.”

He continued to renew his membership each year, eventually joining the Manufacturing Division, Refractory Ceramics Division, and the St. Louis Section. He enjoys attending meetings for the networking. “You get to see what other people are doing,” he says, referring to the symposia, “but I attend mainly for the networking. You also get to see new products the suppliers are bringing out.”

That networking led him to meet professors who made a difference early in his career. “I got to speak to professors from other universities to collaborate on my Ph.D.,” Headrick says. “Chris Parr, Michel Rigaud, and Richard Bradt gave me lots of advice and helped me a lot in my career.”

And it was at one of the St. Louis Section meetings where he found a job. “That’s where I met Kent Weisenstein, counselor of the St. Louis Section, whom I currently work for,” Headrick recalls fondly.

Giving back

Headrick believes it’s important to get young students engaged with the Society early in their careers, especially during their job search. And since students typically do not have funds to travel to meetings, Headrick finds those funds for them. He secured travel funds for 12 students to attend the recent St. Louis Section/RCD 54th Annual Symposium on Refractories meeting.

Headrick (back row, far left) with students at the 54th St. Louis Section/RCD Annual Symposium on Refractories. Credit: ACerS

“I asked them to bring their resumes,” he says. “And I believe four or five of those students interviewed right there at the meeting!” Headrick says that it is a different experience for employers to talk to job seekers at an informal meeting as opposed to a formal job interview.

“It’s a great chance for the students and potential employers to network,” he adds. “If the students show up at the meetings, they’re showing interest in the field. That’s who you want [to work for you].”

The benefit for students is that “not only do you find out about the company you might be working for,” he says, “but you can talk to their competitors and suppliers to see if that’s a company you want to work for.”

His advice for those considering joining ACerS?

To students: “Join the Society and attend the meetings! It’s the best way to find a job. And if you contact me, I can find you the funds to travel to the RCD or St. Louis Section meetings.”

To professors: “Encourage your students to join ACerS. It will be the best advice you can give them.”

To others: “Be involved! The more involved you get with ACerS, the further it will take you in your career—and the happier you will be in your career.”

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