MSE Is All Around You

By Alec Arbia, Written Communications Assistant

photo of Donghyun Kim, UConn MSE alum (‘23) and current hardware reliability scientist at Nokia Bell Labs.

Donghyun Kim, UConn MSE alum (‘23) and current hardware reliability scientist at Nokia Bell Labs.

“I’ve always been interested in the transformation of materials all around me,” said Donghyun Kim, UConn MSE alum (‘23). “Especially once I learned that the only solid form of H2O – ice – could float on the liquid form of H2O – water – and how because of the property, everything on earth could exist. Materials science and engineering (MSE) was always present, but it shocked me that I had never thought about it. I also found it fascinating how just the configuration of pure carbon can induce different materials with wildly different properties, such as diamond and graphite. These kinds of things led me to step into the world of materials science and engineering.”

Kim pursued his bachelor’s and master’s in MSE at the University of Ulsan in Korea. “As an undergraduate, I learned about many types of phase changes such as thermal, mechanical, and chemical (or thermodynamic). Although thermodynamics was difficult to understand at first, it helped explain the changes in materials in general, which I had always been curious about. As a result, I naturally wanted to study thermodynamic phase transformations. I also expanded my research interests to include electrochemistry and corrosion, which are extensions of thermodynamics.”

The reason Kim chose to come to UConn was specifically to work with Professor Lesley Frame. “I had considered several universities to pursue a corrosion-related doctoral program, and I found out that Professor Frame focuses on structure-property-processing relationships and corrosion research. As a result, I had a chance to study the effect of steel processing and properties on bridge steel corrosion performance. I learned a lot from her as my major advisor, including maintaining a solid work ethic, staying enthusiastic in the face of difficulty, time management skills, being detail and goal-oriented, and how to be a generous group leader. Academically, her attitude in dealing with research projects inspired me tremendously.”

Now, Kim works for Nokia Bell Labs as a hardware reliability scientist. “My main role is analyzing corrosion phenomena in actual field-used electronics. I work with others on how to resolve the issues, or how to mitigate the corrosion progression in a cost-effective way. I also get a lot of experience in problem solving and research. Learning from my coworkers, which consist of senior scientists and a highly trained technical staff, is definitely my favorite part of my job. I also enjoy having a flexible schedule and our cooperative and supportive environment. Working at a world-renowned and historic laboratory is fascinating.”

When asked further about his research, Kim said, “I mostly work on failed samples from the actual field, so naturally, my research interests include corrosion-induced failure mechanisms of electronics. The reason for corrosion-induced failure in electronics is often unclear, and unidentified because of its randomness. Not only is this my personal research interest, but it’s also a major topic for the entire electronics industry.”

The advice Kim has for those considering majoring in MSE is as follows: “MSE is all around you. Your smartphone, laptop, desk, chair, car, clothes, shoes – everything is built on the foundation of materials science. If you are interested in your surroundings, MSE would be the right major for you. Any company that manufactures something needs an MSE major. And if you are a current MSE student, I would like to quote Professor Frame in saying: don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

When asked if he had any final comments, Kim said, “Don’t let the present slip away while regretting the past and worrying about the future. Be nice to other people and enjoy the present to its fullest.”

Published: January 17, 2024

Categories: alumni, news

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