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JOM, Vol. 64, No.

2, 2012

DOI: 10.1007/s11837-012-0277-5
2012 TMS

Feature

Society Perspective

Society Perspective: Getting the


Word Out About the Importance
of MSE
Kevin Hemker
To those of us who have devoted
our careers to
materials science
and engineering
(MSE), it is obvious that the work
we do can have an
impact on nearly
every aspect of
society. From enKevin Hemker
abling the functions of advanced technologies to ensuring basic needs, such as shelter and
potable water, materials have come to
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life.
Beyond our MSE community, however, the importance of continued materials advancement to addressing so
many social and economic demands
becomes less clear. Opening those
lines of communication is the mission
of the TMS Public and Governmental
Affairs (P&GA) Committee.
At its December 2011 meeting, the
TMS Board of Directors approved
an important step in enhancing the
P&GAs effortscontracting with a
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TMS on strengthening and growing a
short and long-term communications
strategy focused on informing U.S.
federal policy makers, government
agencies, and others about the vital
role that materials research and development plays in the progress and wellbeing of society.
Developing a policy portfolio,
identifying and monitoring important
issues and legislation, and raising
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forums as issues develop are some arHDVLQZKLFKWKHUPZLOOEHRIIHULQJ
support. All of these activities will be
202

pursued in a manner consistent with


TMSs charter as a non-politically afOLDWHGSURIHVVLRQDOPHPEHUVKLSRUJDnization.
In addition, the P&GA looks forward to the insights and expertise that
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our existing programs. This includes:
Congressional Visit Days (CVD), in
which we take 50 Materials Advantage students to Washington to engage
their government and advocate for

Beyond our MSE


community, the importance of continued materials advancement to
addressing so many
social and economic
demands becomes less
clear. Opening those
lines of communication
is the mission of the
TMS Public and
Governmental Affairs
(P&GA) Committee.
the importance of materials science
and engineering; letter writing topics through our Wired To Washington
service (www.tms.org/PGA/PGAw2w
.aspx); and the Materials Information
Luncheon series on Capitol Hill that
TMS hosts in cooperation with other
professional societies.
The array of policy issues that TMS

could possibly address at any given


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the P&GA to narrow its priorities
down to a manageable, but effective
scope. For the coming year, these include:
THE MATERIALS GENOME
INITIATIVE (MGI)
Unveiled by President Barack
Obama in June 2011, this multistakeholder effort to develop an infrastructure for accelerating materials
discovery, development, and deployment has far-reaching implications for
the future of MSE. Shortly after the
MGIs announcement, TMS took the
lead in coordinating a letter of support
to President Obama that was signed
by 11 professional society presidents
representing nearly 700,000 members. This was followed in August by
a Materials Information Luncheon that
TMS co-sponsored with the Materials
Research Society. With the theme,
Accelerating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation for Global Competitiveness, the event highlighted resources and approaches to implementing the principles conceptualized by
the MGI. (To view the presentations,
go to materialsinnovation.tms.org
/resources.aspx.)
The P&GAs work on this topic
continued on February 15 with another Materials Information Luncheon
IRFXVHGRQHTXLSSLQJWKHQH[WJHQHUDtion workforce for a new era of materials and manufacturing innovation.
This time, ASM International, the
American Ceramics Society, and the
University Materials Council co-sponsored the event with TMS.
Finally, I encourage TMS members

Society Perspective: Getting the Word Out About the Importance of MSE

to attend the Federal Funding Workshop that the P&GA has organized for
the TMS 2012 Annual Meeting and
Exhibition. This programwhich
immediately follows the TMS 2012
special plenary session on materials
innovation in the aerospace industrywill give you the opportunity
to learn about funding opportunities
supporting the MGIs ambitious goals
from program leaders representing
key federal funding agencies. The
program will begin with a highly
interactive panel discussion at 4 pm
on Wednesday, March 14, and will
conclude with a networking reception designed to promote one-on-one
conversation with the panelists. (Go
to www.tms.org/meetings/annual-12
/events.aspx for more detailed information.)
RARE EARTH ELEMENTS
The P&GA formed a subcommittee in September 2011 to begin developing a multi-pronged response
to ensuring a stable, secure supply of
rare earth elements that are critical to
many clean energy technologies, as
well as next-generation electronics.
In addition to identifying approaches
for sustainable mining and processing of these materials, strong support
must also be given to research into
rare earth alternatives, as well as en-

hanced resource recovery and recycling options.


ENERGY
With the completion of the threephase study on materials and processing innovations that TMS coordinated
on behalf of the U.S. Department of
Energy, we now have a rich resource of
information and ideas that can be used

While exciting and


necessary to ensure that
MSE is thoughtfully
considered in key policy
and funding discussions,
these efforts will realize
their fullest potential
only with the support
and engagement of
TMS members.
to highlight the importance of sustained materials research and development to our energy future. (The special
insert in this issue of JOM, Materials:
Foundation for the Clean Energy Age,
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and conclusions that have emanated
from this project.)

203

While exciting and necessary to


ensure that MSE is thoughtfully considered in key policy and funding discussions, these efforts will realize their
fullest potential only with the support
and engagement of TMS members.
Opportunities to make a real difference
in these issues abound. Materials Advantage student members are encouraged to participate in the 2012 CVD
event, scheduled this year for April 17
and 18. Use the ease and convenience
of our Wired to Washington resource to
help national policy leaders make the
connection between MSE and critical
U.S. initiatives. And, keep yourself apprised of the issues by regularly checking TMSs online Public and Governmental Affairs Resource Center (www
.tms.org/PGA/PGAHome.aspx).
Materials are the enabling factors
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tions security, economic prosperity,
and continued progress. We in MSE
have always known this. I urge you
to use the resources available through
TMS to make sure the individuals and
government agencies in Washington,
who make the decisions that can affect
the future of MSE, know this as well.
Kevin Hemker is the Alonzo G. Decker Chair of
Mechanical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, at Johns Hopkins University and
chair of the TMS Public and Governmental Affairs
Committee.

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