U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Erin Donohue at MA’s “Congressional Visits Day” last week. Donohue is a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara in Carlos Levis‘s group studying thermal barrier coatings. Credit: ACerS.

Last week the Material Advantage Student Program delegation took their annual trip to Washington, DC, to promote materials science, research, and higher education with elected officials and their staffs. Tricia Freshour, ACerS liaison to the Material Advantage Student Program, was with them and provided this report.

Congressional Visits Day (CVD), organized each year by the Material Advantage Program, was held last week on April 10 and 11 in Washington, DC. The CVD is an annual event that brings students to Washington to raise visibility and support for science, engineering, and technology.

Thirty-seven students and faculty from 13 universities attended this year’s CVD event. CVD is a unique opportunity for materials science and engineering students to advocate for long-term funding for science, engineering and technology through meetings with Congressional decision makers. Security was tight because of sequestration. The students also witnessed thousands of people rallying for immigration on the Capitol lawn, which made getting around DC very busy and hectic, but the weather was great, and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.

The CVD experience began with an opening reception on Wednesday, April 10, where the students heard three great speakers regarding topics relevant to their visits. Most of the students’ Congressional visits with legislators were scheduled by the students themselves for Thursday, April 11, throughout the day. The students visited with legislative assistants, correspondents, and aides as well as the senators and representatives themselves. One student was even able to snag a photo with a well-known senator on her way to an important vote. [See photo of Senator Dianne Feinstein and student Erin Donohue, above.]

Watch for a full recap of this year’s CVD in the June/July issue of the ACerS’ Bulletin.

The partner societies in the Material Advantage Student Program are The American Ceramic Society, the Association for Iron & Steel Technology, ASM International, and The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society.