The International Titanium Association’s (ITA) membership committee members met via teleconference recently. Henry Seiner, recently named president of the ITA’s executive board, initiated discussions on how to engage with young adults and have them fill the ranks of future engineers, metallurgists and administrators in the titanium industry.
‘The ITA understands that academia is where the future is found for the titanium metal industry,” Seiner said. “Participants on today’s call have experienced posters session and some of the (student) presentations at the ITA’s annual U.S. conferences. Today we would like to gain your insight and add your suggestions for programming consideration.”
Beginning in 2017, ITA will establish a new foundation to provide academic scholarships, underwrite academic poster sessions at annual TITANIUM conferences in Europe and the United States, and support research projects and other ITA programs. While details are forthcoming, companies would be able to provide tax-free contributions to support the foundation initiative. Membership committee members indicated that the foundation would play an important part in the above-mentioned outreach to academia.
The membership committee agreed that expanding student interaction within the ITA and increasing the interest in titanium research is a worthwhile and necessary goal. The consensus was that the ITA, through its outreach efforts, needs to expand the number of students interested in titanium-related activities in order to attract new talent for the industry. Universities already engaged in titanium research include Carnegie Mellon and Ohio State. Simpson pointed out that, in order to broaden the opportunities for more university engagement, the ITA should start with the universities who are already working with titanium first, and then expand the program once success has been measured.
It’s acknowledged that annual ITA conferences do a good job addressing market oriented and industry information—topics typically not offered at academic, research-based symposiums. In addition to supporting corporate job fairs and academic poster sessions, the ITA might consider an expanded interaction between industry and academia so that the participants are invited for that purpose. Committee members observed that academics go to manufacturing conferences, but many times titanium is not the focus of such gatherings. It was suggested that the ITA consider a titanium-related conference, where manufacturing people and materials scientists can attend, mingle and focus on titanium. The ITA could market the event to offer sessions with the goal of bringing the industry and academia together.
Jim Klausner, the chair of Michigan State University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, suggested longer-term goals could include the formation of a working consortium between ITA member companies and universities that have an interest in titanium. “Industry can address the key challenges they face that they would like to have university researchers take on,” Klausner said. “Industry has the ability to interact and get to know the professors and the students and in turn, it all feeds into each other with the ITA taking advantage of the increased attendance through these efforts and the industry gains the success of growing the student base interested in titanium related activities.”
Committee members confirmed there was positive feedback from the Michigan State University’s graduate students who participated at the ITA 32nd annual conference held Sept. 25-28 in Scottsdale, AZ. In addition, Carl Boehlert, an associate professor at Michigan State’s University’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, gave a presentation on “Composites for the Material Threats to the Titanium Industry” panel session.