By Marlese Lessing
Students, alumni and faculty of the University of Connecticut Department of Materials Science and Engineering celebrated their, and their peers’, accomplishments at the annual MSE banquet, held at the Alumni Center at the end of the Spring semester.
The event featured speeches, awards and connections between students and their instructors, as well as graduated professionals working within the field of materials sciences. Over two dozen graduate students also joined in, bringing the attendance total to 100.
MSE department head and professor Dr. Bryan D. Huey said that it was “gratifying” watch the event grow, and that the involvement of the department’s alumni helped to make the night both successful, and a learning experience for the students attending.
“One of the highlights of the night was when everyone in the banquet hall doing some form of research stood up. That was a telling moment of just how actively involved so many of our students are in their education,” Huey said. “Compounded with widespread participation in other clubs and sports, and of course extensive outreach through the materials student chapters, engineering ambassadors, engineers without borders and related programs, you really began to understand why our students are so well positioned to make a difference during and beyond their years at UConn.”
The event was organized by the UConn Material Advantage Student Chapter (UCMA)and UConn Chapter of theMaterials Research Society (MRS),two student-based organizations who help create outreach events and activities based on materials science and engineering.
The banquet was first held in 2013, Huey said, and has since expanded with further innovation and attendance from students, faculty and alumni.
“I am especially grateful to all of our banquet organizers since the event began in 2013, as this really has been a student-driven event all along” Huey said. “I am especially grateful to all of our banquet organizers since the event began in 2013, as this really has been a student-driven event all along. And while 100 attended on Friday, this can easily double, given our strong alumni base—we hope many more of them join this MSE family gathering next year.”
UCMA was the primary organizer of the event this year, said organization president and rising senior Kenna Ritter.
“We worked very closely with the Department and the Materials Research Society, but we were involved in almost all aspects of planning this event from catering, venue booking, program planning,” Ritter said. “All the UCMA officers were dedicated to doing the best work we could put forward so that we could host an event we were proud of.”
While previous banquets have focused on, and featured, keynote speakers from alumni and industry professionals, this year student and department accomplishments were at the forefront, Ritter said.
“Last year, we invited Fred Anderson, founder of Advantec Engineering LLC to speak to us about failure analysis in the legal system and we also invited Dr. Prabhakar Singh to speak about his experiences in material science and engineering, “Ritter said. “This year… we spoke about all the events and clubs that our members participate in both with Material Advantage and with the School of Engineering. In addition, we had a representative from MRS speak about the achievements of graduate students.”
Alumni were encouraged to attend, and invited to the event by way of networking, Ritter said.
“We reached out to alumni through the MSE Alumni LinkedIn Page, we collaborated with the UConn Foundation to email alumni invitations, and we also used word of mouth to encourage alumni to attend,” Ritter said.
While this year’s attendance, on both the student and alumni part, was successful, Ritter said that she would like to increase attendance in the future and continue to emphasize the importance of celebrating the department’s achievements.
“This banquet is important to the department because it gives professors and students a chance to interact with each other in a different environment,” Ritter said. “Professors and graduate students are doing a lot of research that is being support by the university. This banquet is a good opportunity to acknowledge all the hard work and commitment put forth by everyone.”