Plenary session speaker Delbert Day addresses the audience at ICC4. Credit: Russell Lee Leonard, ACerS.

The 4th International Conference on Ceramics continued on Tuesday with another full day of events. The day was a mixture of activities including two plenary sessions, a multitude of invited speaker sessions and a second interactive technology forum. I attended many of the activities and have selected a few of my favorites to share with you in this blog.

Delbert Day, whom I enjoyed meeting at dinner the night before, was the day’s first plenary speaker. Day recounted how he started his own business, MO-SCI Corporation, while employed as a professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He talked about the factors that led to his company’s early survival, including support from his university, help from his state incubator program that reduced costs, and Small Business Innovative Research funding. He listed the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and also lightheartedly compared and contrasted himself with the average entrepreneur. Day also noted that it is more common today for universities to encourage businesses to be developed from faculty research, which also create sources of income for the schools.

After lunch, I attended Christianne Corbett’s presentation, which addressed the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I attended this presentation in part because of my own curiosity about the subject, and also because I knew this talk would interest my academic advisor, Jacqueline Johnson, who has taken an active role in recruiting women and other underrepresented groups to my university. Although Corbett’s talk focused on the underrepresentation of women, many of the topics she discussed could apply to other underrepresented minorities as well. I thought the presentation was very good and recommend visiting the website of the American Association of University Women.

Later in the afternoon, I was in the audience for Lynette Madsen‘s presentation titled “Priorities for Nanoscale Ceramics.” I had the pleasure of meeting Madsen and her husband, Erik Svedberg, during Sunday’s welcome reception. Madsen, is director of the ceramics program at the National Science Foundation, and she listed some of the current funding opportunities available from the US government. She also talked briefly about the attributes that she looks for in a favorable proposal. One item that I found especially interesting is that Madsen will often have to reject very good proposals for lack of funding, but will try to see that worthy proposals are eventually funded if the investigators are persistent and resubmit.

Before the close of the day’s activities, I toured the Interactive Technology Forum, which had a new batch of presenters from the previous day. There were quite a variety of topics presented in both traditional poster and interactive form. I made a point to seek out Jesse Angle, a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine that I had met at Monday’s first plenary session. Angle’s interactive presentation on ceramic composites for nuclear applications had five animated simulations that spectators could initiate through a mouse interface. Angle conveyed that most visitors liked the interactive format and the hands-on aspect of the presentation. Later, I spoke with graduate student Rolf Weigand, who had a very good presentation on improvements to glassmaking refractories; Weigand also expressed a favorable opinion of this year’s new interactive format.

I have found this year’s conference to be very enjoyable so far and am looking forward to Wednesday’s events!

Russell Lee Leonard, ACerS.

Jesse Angle explains his research to a visitor at the ICC4 Interactive Technology Forum. Credit: Russell Lee Leonard, ACerS.