[Image above] Members of ACerS International Chapters organized an informal reception while they were all together at the ECerS-2023 conference. Credit: ACerS
The European Ceramic Society held its biennial conference on July 2–6, 2023, in Lyon, France, otherwise known as “The City of Lights.” This year returns the conference to its usual timing. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the 2021 event to take place in 2022 instead in Krakow, Poland.
Organizers were delighted to welcome a near-record attendance of 1,300 people, including about 400 students, from Europe, Asia, the United States, and elsewhere. More than 50 companies participated as exhibitors or conference sponsors.
Student attendees likely struggled to fit in all the events designed for them, starting with the traditional two-day ECerS Summer School preceding the conference. This year’s summer school theme was “Advanced characterization techniques.” During the conference, students could participate in a speech contest, present their work in the poster or symposia sessions, network at the Young Scientists Career Fair and Young Ceramists Network reception, or attend the experimental workshop on additive manufacturing.
There were plenty of activities for those beyond their student years as well.
The conference offered 16 symposia, including four “satellite” symposia. A welcome reception, exposition hall with 44 booths, and a gala dinner provided many points of interaction and opportunities to meet friends and colleagues, talk about science, and explore collaboration opportunities.
The American Ceramic Society and ECerS have worked to build stronger ties since 2014 with the goal of increasing scientific exchange. The societies formalized the collaboration in 2020 with a memorandum of understanding that established an award and a joint ACerS–ECerS symposium, plus confirmed mutual support of each organizations’ student programs: ECerS Summer Schools and ACerS Winter Workshops.
The ACerS–ECerS joint symposium focused on sustainable development and featured 22 talks over two days. This joint symposium was the first one to take place in Europe.
The ACerS–ECerS Award, which recognizes a ceramist who has played a leadership role in promoting mutual cooperation, was given to Belgian ceramist Francis Cambier. He is president of ECerS and lead organizer of the conference.
ACerS Fellow, Distinguished Life Member, and former president Tatsuki Ohji received the Richard Brook Award from ECerS. The Richard Brook Award recognizes a ceramist from a country outside of Europe for outstanding contributions to ceramic science or technology and for enhancing understanding and collaboration within the international ceramics community.
In his award plenary lecture titled “Silicon nitride ceramics: Fascinating properties,” Ohji compared silicon nitride to the incomparable Mona Lisa, saying “Silicon nitride is like the Mona Lisa. She is so attractive, but so mysterious.” He argued that silicon nitride’s excellent mechanical properties make “her” attractive, but the mystery lies in the veiled mechanisms behind those properties.
ACerS member Moritz Von Witzleben, general manager of INMATEC Technologies in Germany, received the Gian Nicola Babini Award. The award is given every second year to a person in industry who contributed to the development of the European ceramic industry by an outstanding technical achievement.
In his lecture, Von Witzleben summarized milestones in his company’s growth, starting with production of the first ceramic feedstock in 1999. He made a strong case for taking a holistic approach toward professional development of young people, noting the importance of interdisciplinary thinking and skills.
The American Ceramic Society was well represented at the conference. Executive director Mark Mecklenborg was in attendance, as were current president Sanjay Mathur and several past presidents. Many members of ACerS International Chapters were there as well. They took the opportunity to celebrate their ACerS–ECerS dual citizenship with an informal outdoor reception, which they called ACerS@ECerS.
Overall, the energy at the conference and its events was high and positive. Mecklenborg captured the feeling with, “My take would be that the lights were turned back on this year with a strong ICACC and a strong ECerS in Lyon—the City of Lights!”
Plans are already underway for ECerS-2025 in Dresden, Germany, which will take place Aug. 31–Sept. 4. Learn more at www.ecers2025.org.