Duane DeBastiani gave a presentation about Vesuvius and its technologies. Credit: Zhu; Vesuvius.
Editor’s note: The student tour to a local ceramics business has become a favorite tradition at MS&T. This year was the fifth consecutive year for the tour, and ACerS member Sumin Zhu, principal scientist at Vesuvius and a key organizer of this year’s event, reports on the day.
By Sumin Zhu
On Oct. 8, 2012, the Vesuvius Research Center hosted a tour for a group of 20 students from eight different universities and one high school. The tour was organized by The American Ceramic Society’s President’s Council of Student Advisors and hosted by Vesuvius during the Materials Science & Technology 2012 Conference & Exhibition held earlier this month in Pittsburgh, Pa.
After an introductory presentation by Duane DeBastiani, director of enabling technologies and general manager of Vesuvius Research in Pittsburgh, the students got to select one of the two tour tracks offered.
The first tour track focused on processing and testing and allowed students to see raw materials, mixing and drying equipment; forming processes (cold isostatic pressing and uniaxial hydraulic pressing); kilns and furnaces; a preheat test demonstration; high-temperature property test equipment; and a thermal shock test with a thermite reaction.
The second track dealt with analytical instruments and introduced students to various thermal, physical and chemical analysis methods, as well as SEM/EDS and rheometer demonstrations.
“This type of event helps promote Vesuvius and improves awareness within the materials community about our company and technology,” says DeBastiani, who provided strong support for the event.
The students had very positive things to say about the tour, too, and appreciated relating their classwork to real world applications. “It was great to finally look inside a ceramic processing plant and relate it to what we just read in classes,” says Diksha Sudhakar Kini, Alfred University. “I was also very excited about the lab tour which threw light on how optimization was carried out on such large scales. The staff and our guide through the tour were very welcoming and open to questions at all times. Mr. DeBastiani’s introduction to Vesuvius and its products helped us understand its presence and importance in the market, too.”
Qing Yang, Michigan State University, adds, “I really enjoyed the tour to Vesuvius. It was very generous of them to put in the effort and resources guiding the tour. I saw quite a few instruments similar to what I have in my research lab, but it’s really interesting to see how everything is applied and scaled up in an industrial R&D lab.”