Peter Wray delivers the recap on the Security & Strategic Materials talks given at ICC4. Credit: Bobby Harl, ACerS.

It is hard to believe ICC4 is already over, and I’m submitting my final blog post; it seems like everything just started. Usually the fun things in life move by fast, and this experience has epitomized that idiom. For today’s post, I want to give an overview of my experience working with ACerS on the daily blogs and encourage the program to continue, peppered with some of the overall highlights I found in the conference.

Coming in, I had never blogged before. In fact I hardly read blogs, so I was a bit concerned with my ability to deliver a blog post up to the expectations of my editors. However, when I began it came easily because each day was filled with a plethora of amazing potential stories, so at that point it was hard to pick one. That may not sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t too different than having nothing to write about at all. My editors, Eileen De Guire and Peter Wray, helped me find my blogging voice, and the processes flowed with little perturbation.

The speakers at ICC4 were varied and discussed the many challenges and opportunities facing the ceramics community. I feel like I’ve heard that said to describe this conference a few times, so let me elaborate. The industrial speakers were from the companies who have the money, expertise and drive to bring the research and technology to market. I’ve heard industrially derived talks at other conferences, and they are typically an investor-oriented talk, which would make little impact at a technical conference. Here, the talks had some of the investor relations overview slides, but the speakers gave the community direction on where they were having problems and the areas they are trying to implement ceramic technology. As a graduate student, that was very encouraging as sometimes (okay, quite often) the research drives you into being obsessed with obtaining one graph, and you lose site of the reasons and potential for the research.

Besides the industrial speakers, the speakers from academia, national labs and the government organizations (i.e. FAA, NSF, Army Research Lab) all provided insight into various other aspects that effect the advancement of ceramic technology. The speakers told us about the exciting new capabilities that were being developed using ceramic materials, new techniques for moving those techniques forward, and we got some advice on how to fund this great research. Generally, the speakers also included an emphasis on international collaboration and research. Add in the international attendance and sponsorship of the conference, and I think ICC4 really showcased the drive of researchers across both the US and the globe to reach out to experts in a variety of fields to solve difficult problems.

While there are many at ACerS I’d like to thank, I’ll specifically thank De Guire, Wray and Mark Mecklenborg for this fantastic opportunity. Working with the three of them made the experience what it was, and it was from them that the student blogger program was developed. I deeply thank the three of you and I encourage you to continue giving these opportunities to students in the future.