A packed plenary session from last year’s MS&T. This year’s conference focuses on the latest materials science and engineering—all part of gaining and keeping the competitive edge in tough economic times. Credit: ACerS.

It looks like worry over the FY’13 budget is growing to a national scale. Since posting the previous story, the Washington Post published a story about a report from the Congressional Budget Office predicting the possibility of a new, deep recession. The first two paragraphs of the article set up the sobering story.

The nation would be plunged into a deep recession during the first half of next year if Congress fails to avert nearly $500 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts set to hit in January, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday.

The massive round of New Year’s belt-tightening—variously known as the fiscal cliff or Taxmageddon—would disrupt recent economic progress, push the unemployment rate back up to 9.1 percent by the end of 2013 and cause economic conditions “that will probably be considered a recession,” the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said.

I made the point in my previous story that there will still be innovation, manufacturing and progress. There will be survivors of if a new economic storm does strike. And, if a downturn hits, there will even be some who thrive by capitalizing on unexpected opportunities.

Information—who, where, how, what—is your antenna to spotting opportunities and finding the critical path to success. Tough economic times are unforgiving, and you have to be smart about how you navigate the rough times.

A primary mission of The American Ceramic Society is to provide the resources you need to be one of the survivors, even a “thriver,” especially as things get bumpy. The Society has been a leader in that regard as one of the founding partner societies of the Materials Science and Technology conference, which also includes the Society’s Annual Meeting. This year MS&T will be Oct. 7–11—just as FY’13 opens—and will be in Pittsburgh, Pa.

In times of economic uncertainty, there are many things that are out of one’s control, but it is always smart to try improve the odds. Events such as MS&T are an intelligence and networking bonanza, and investing in attending is can be one of the smartest moves to make in the months ahead! The early-bird registration rate expires on Sept. 11, so sign up soon to save $175 on the attendance fee.

Here is a brief summary of programming and short courses at the conference, with a focus on programming directly related to ceramic science. It turns out that fully 40 percent of the symposia are directly related to ceramic materials or work being done by ACerS members. I’ve captured snippet descriptions to give you flavor of what’s in store.

Symposia topical areas

Biomaterials – five symposia

“Recent advances in nanomanufacturing have resulted in new, and in some cases radically different, materials and devices. Because they are scalable, some of these new techniques promise low cost, mass-production of nanomaterials and devices.”

• Bioinspired Materials Engineering
• Nanomaterials and Nanodevices
• Next Generation Biomaterials
• Recent Advances in Laser Fabrication and Characterization Methods: Laser Processing of Biomedical Materials
• Surface Properties of Biomaterials III

Ceramic and Glass Materials – eight symposia

“Monolithic ceramics are brittle and show catastrophic failure. In contrast, ceramic composites are strong, tough and demonstrate graceful failure under loading and show promise for many advanced applications at room and elevated temperatures.”

• Ceramic Matrix Composites
• Glass and Optical Materials
• Innovative Processing and Synthesis of Ceramics, Glasses and Composites
• International Symposium on Defects, Transport and Related Phenomena
• Multifunctional Oxides
• Novel Sintering Processes and News in Conventional Sintering and Grain Growth

Electronic and Magnetic – five symposia

“The symposium covers the recent developments of material design, material preparation, properties, manufacturing issues, cost reduction etc. applicable to dielectric materials and electronic circuits.”

• Advances in Dielectric Materials and Electronic Devices
• Controlled Synthesis, Processing, and Applications of Structural and Functional Nanomaterials
• Magnetoelectric Multiferroic Thin Films and Multilayers
• Pb-Free Solders and Next Generation Interconnects
• Semiconductor Heterostructures: Theory, Growth, Characterization, and Device Applications

Energy Issues– five symposia

“While nuclear energy might provide a solution to the increasing demand for electricity, global warming, air pollution, and dependence on imported oil, the increasing inventories of nuclear waste pose a significant challenge to safety and the environment by setting high expectations for the performance of the materials used in nuclear waste management.”

• Energy Conversion – Photovoltaic, Concentrating Solar Power and Thermoelectric
• Energy Storage: Materials, Systems and Applications
• Materials Development for Nuclear Applications and Extreme Environments
• Materials Issues in Nuclear Waste Management in the 21st Century
• Nanotechnology for Energy, Environment, Healthcare and Industry

Fundamentals and Characterization – nine symposia

“The materials of interest are alloys and ceramics under extreme environment. This symposium aims at bringing out the latest methods and models in macroscale thermal mechanical property predictions based on an evolving microstructure.”

• Failure Analysis and Prevention
• Frontiers of Materials Science: Fundamentals of Porous Materials from Development to Applications
• Fundamental Understanding of High-Entropy Alloy Formation and their Properties
• In-situ Characterization of Phase Transformations in Materials
• Integrated Computational Materials Engineering: The Customer’s Point of View
• Microstructure Based Property Prediction and Small Scale Experimental Validation
• Multi Scale Modeling of Microstructure Deformation in Material Processing
• Phase Stability, Diffusion, Kinetics and their Applications (PSDK-VII)
• Quantification of Texture and Microstructure Gradients in Polycrystalline Materials

Iron and Steel – four symposia

“The relationships between casting, inclusion control, rolling and cooling practices, thermal and thermo-mechanical processing, and post rolling processing on the mechanical and physical properties of finished products are particularly relevant.”

• Advances in Zinc-Based Coating Technologies for Steel Sheet
• Recent Developments in High Strength Steels for Energy Applications
• Recent Developments in Steel Processing
• Steel Product Metallurgy and Applications

Materials-Environment Interactions – six symposia

“To get the greatest benefit from materials like ceramics, metals, composites and biomaterials, protecting their surfaces and achieving system multi-functionality are required.”

• Advanced Understanding of the Atmospheric Corrosion of Materials
• Coatings for Corrosion and Wear Resistance Applications
• Corrosion Protection of Aging Infrastructure
• Development of Advanced Alloys and Coating Systems for Demanding Oil and Gas Applications
• Environmentally Assisted Cracking of Materials
• Surface Protection for Enhanced Materials Performance: Science, Technology and Applications

Materials Performance – nine symposia

“High temperature, structural ceramics and ceramic composites are enabling materials for hypersonic flight, advanced efficient turbine engines, and various energy systems. There is a need to understand the damage mechanisms that limit the performance of these materials in extreme environments, to develop the capability for high fidelity modeling of their response, and to invent new material systems and new processing, synthesis, and implementation strategies.”

• Beyond Nickel-Base Superalloys–II
• Boron, Boron Compounds, and Boron Nanomaterials: Structure, Properties, Processing and Applications
• Functional and Innovative Composites
• Materials, Structures and System Design for Extreme Environments in Aerospace and Energy Applications
• Multifunctional Materials for Aerospace and Defense: Challenges and Prospects
• Novel Methods for Deformation Testing of Metals and Materials
• Recent Advances in Phase Transformations and Structural Evolution in Titanium and its Alloys
• Symposium on the Fatigue of Materials II: Advances and Emergences in Understanding
• Titanium Alloys for Demanding Applications

Process and Product Manufacturing – seven symposia

“Sustainable development is globally recognized as a key issue for future growth and well being of society. Therefore, “green” or environmentally benign technologies have been a major focus of study by materials scientists and engineers worldwide.”

• Additive Manufacturing of Metals
• Advanced Materials, Processes, and Applications for Additive Manufacturing
• Advances in Metal Casting Technologies
• Design of Forming Processes and Tooling in Transforming Materials
• Green Technologies for Materials Manufacturing and Processing IV
• Joining of Advanced and Specialty Materials (JASM XIV)
• Powder Metallurgy Processing and Products

Special Topics – eight symposia (Only ACerS listed)

“The Richard M. Fulrath Award honorably promotes technical and personal friendships between Japanese and American professional ceramic engineers/scientists and encourages understanding among the diverse cultures surrounding the Pacific Rim.”

• Continuous Improvement of Academic Programs (and Satisfying ABET along the Way)—Elizabeth Judson Memorial Symposium
• Richard M. Fulrath Award Session
• Solidification, Crystal Growth and Microstructural Correlation with Properties of Materials: to Celebrate 75th Birthday of Prof. Martin E. Glicksman

Short courses

Short courses are a great way to jumpstart the competencies of yourself and your staff. ACerS has four lined up for the weekend as MS&T winds down.

Focused Ion Beams and Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
Nanoscale structure matters, and in this course you will learn how to see it. Find out what these and similar tools can do for your process, quality assurance and product development.

Physical Foundations of Electroceramics for Microelectronics
You carry a pocketful of electroceramics with you in your smartphone and laptop. Materials issues drive what electronics can do and the horizon is full of innovative materials. This course gives you what you need to be part of this exciting industry.

Sintering of Ceramics
Sintering is fundamental to ceramic materials processing, and in many ways, controls final properties. This course is a great introduction to the interplay going on between powders, intergranular phases and heat. Or, if all you need is to dust off what you learned in college, this is the course for you.

Mechanical Properties of Ceramics and Glass
Stuff breaks. It helps to know why, how and when. These two instructors condense their lifetimes of studying fracture and failure into an accessible and useful format.