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Beyond the books

physical location. Journals clutter. Consider separate inboxes or Use social media to connect with
even separate accounts for school and others in your field. Professional orga-
are published online for personal use. nizations often use these platforms to
anyone in the world to read Every scientist needs a good refer- announce seminars, meetings or social
before they are available in ence library. Use the many sources on gatherings.
the web for used books to help build Remember, you also have peers
print form. We can use all your library. Many books also are avail- and professors that are human beings.
of this to our advantage to able in digital format at little or no cost. Engage their help with coursework and
work more efficiently and Some top universities offer free research.
online lectures or even entire courses. If you use the right tools to find,
solve more complex prob- Do some independent study to give organize and review information, you
lems, but only if we are able yourself additional background on a can access the information efficiently
course you are taking or to help you without wasting time and brain cells
to manage the flow of infor- with your research. wading through the large volume of
mation. Learn to use all the features embed- information available. Time and brain
As a first-year graduate student, I ded in the literature databases. Most cells spent processing and using infor-
have found myself overwhelmed with allow you to track citations to find mation to increase your knowledge base
the amount of information accessible related papers. Some also allow you eas- and advance your research are time and
to me. Even though I belong to one of ily to share articles with your peers and brain cells better spent.
the first generations to grow up with your advisor over email or social media.
the computer, I still find it difficult to Use a citation manager to keep About the author
manage the constant flow of informa- track of the papers you read. There Taylor Shoulders is a first-year PhD
tion from emails, social media, online are so many on the market, it is worth candidate in materials science and
databases, textbooks, etc. This overflow reading online reviews to find the best optics at the University of Central
of information extends to research and fit for you. Florida, where he is working in the
coursework. Download an RSS feed reader and transparent ceramics group of Romain
Here are a few tips that have helped subscribe to feeds from the journals you Gaume. He earned a BS in ceramic and
me to manage my information flow: most often read. This takes some of the materials engineering from Clemson
Keep your email inbox free of work out of finding the newest articles. University. n

Art, science and engineering: Lessons given, lessons

received the potential in art and design. This
can be a problem because engineering
great way to develop communication
skills. Everyone notices and observes
By Maxwell Marple
is the art of manipulating nature and information differently, and by expand-
using science to solve problems. ing your repertoire of communication
Engineering requires a solid under- techniques you will be able to reach a
standing of the fundamentals of nature broader audience. When constructing
to creatively manipulate them to serve an art project, the constraints are those
a purpose through the process of design. of the medium being manipulated. Each
Interestingly, if you substitute the word medium has its own unique methods
art for engineering in the previ- and procedures, along with standards
The offerings of art to engineers ous sentence, it still holds true. An of design criteria. Working within the
Many engineers balk at the notion art course can offer valuable skills to constraints of a particular medium
of taking an art class, because they an engineer, including more effective forces you to analyze and determine the
see no value from such an endeavor. communication, enhancing nonlinear optimal way of presenting your ideas to
Ironically, most engineers strive to be thinking and reinforcing theory. By your audience.
creative and inspire others with their taking art classes, engineers expose The hands-on nature of art is one
work, and art classes are intended to themselves to a different perspective aspect. A unique facet of art that is
inspire and push the bounds of creativ- on thinking, allowing them to improve absent from engineering is the infamous
ity. themselves in a variety of ways. critique. The critique is an opportunity
So, why do engineers choose not for peers or instructors to provide feed-
dabble in art? The answer may be sim- Changing your communication back on work-in-progress or the finished
ply that engineers generally do not see Taking an artistic perspective is a work. It is communication at its finest

American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 91, No. 5 | 43

Beyond the books

the feedback given must be justified and considering the precise phrasing that and ways of testing a design. Although
often forces individuals to give precise will direct others to rectify their mis- these methods serve their practical pur-
statements with concrete explanations of takes without obliterating their motiva- poses, there can be a lack of focus on
the problems of a particular art piece. tion. Thus, participation in art offers an the visualization or ideation of multiple
By participating in an art class you engineer a whole palate of techniques to solutions. How can ideation be taught?
will be exposed to receiving and giving communicate more effectively. Or more aptly put, how can you teach
criticism. And, by consistently receiv- people to think outside the box?
ing criticism, you can understand better Improve nonlinear thinking There is no simple solution other
how to deal with negative comments Many engineering courses teach than to broaden your perspective and
and how to properly modify your project methods of tackling problems. Typically develop nonlinear thinking skills.
to make it better. By consistently giving this involves understanding the funda- Engineers pride themselves on the
feedback to others, you spend more time mental mechanisms behind problems ability to think in a linear fashion but

Ceramics: The intersection of art and engineering

By Samuel Miller

(Credit: William Carty, Alfred University.)

While it may seem obvious, artists
and engineers think differently. Take for
example crazing and crawling: While Artists and engineers usually try to avoid crawling of glazes (left), but an intention-
engineers strive to eliminate both, art- ally crawled glaze can enhance aesthetic appeal.
ists sometimes use these defects as
decoration. Professors William Carty and John Gill help them understand why the effects
At Alfred University, there is much col- have been doing at Alfred for the past 18 happen so that better results can be
laboration and interaction that benefits years. When artists and engineers inter- obtained and replicated. In return, artists
both groups, but usually not in the form of act, exchange ideas and work together to can help engineers think outside the
dual majors in art and engineering. Both solve them, great things can happen. box, see problems from a different angle
disciplines have a long history and are Take cracking, for example. In one and even see that they might not be
deeply embedded in society, and students case an artist wanted to create a special problems at all.
at Alfred are finding new ways to interact. clay body that would intentionally crack. The lesson is that ceramics have
Artists and engineers come from dif- Working with an engineering student, the so many more uses than just electri-
ferent backgrounds and bring different artist developed a body in which cracking cal insulators, dinnerware, electronic
perspectives and skill sets to their work. could be controlled and used as an aes- components, armor or synthetic bones.
Engineers are strong in math and science, thetically appealing aspect of the artwork. Ceramics are versatile because slight
and are often good problem solvers, but Crawling is another good example. modifications in their formulation or pro-
because they are inclined to think inside Engineers see glaze pulling away from cessing can turn something that has been
the box, sometimes they can miss the the body and beading as a problem. So used for thousands of years for its aes-
overall goal. do artists, unless it is understood and can thetic appeal to a material that can help
Artists, however, think more abstractly be controlled and reproduced to create solve, for example, the modern worlds
and bring different ideas into their work. art. The image above shows how crawling energy problems. Not only are ceramics
They tend to be goal oriented, although can be engineered to control the size versatile in their applications, but so are
they sometimes overlook the process of the beads that form as well as their the people who work with them, and they
steps. Artists have a very good physical orientation as they follow the underlying can learn a lot from each other.
feel for the material they work with texture of the body.
engineers think and understand materials Alfred is a unique place where barriers About the author
more conceptually. tumble, allowing students from the two Samuel Miller is a junior MSE major at
Having acknowledged their differ- disciplines to interact with each other. Alfred University. After graduation, Sam
ences, let us consider what they can do Artists often know what happens and can plans to pursue a PhD in materials engi-
for each other. This is something that control certain effects, and engineers can neering. n

44 | American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 91, No. 5

Beyond the books

often miss the opportunities that come Supplement to theory picture for the theory the next time it
from nonlinear thinking. Art provides Artistic manipulation can reinforce comes up in the classroom, and as you
an opportunity to practice nonlin- theoretical learning, too. Although may find out, there is an inherent satis-
ear thinking as the environment is knowing physics does not make one faction from creating something that all
more conducive to taking an off-beat a craftsman, working with a physical engineers can relate to.
approach and considering novel solu- medium (especially if it is one of sci- Engineering is a discipline that values
tions. An art project typically has only entific interest, i.e. pottery and glass) structure and empirical methods. This
a few constraints stemming from the can provide a deeper appreciation of often blinds us to the fact that really
limitations of the medium and desired the subtleties that engineering often good engineering needs a high degree of
message trying to be expressed. exploits. Observing these subtleties creativity and innovation. Can we learn
The process of thinking with limited and gaining experience working with a to be more creative or innovative? With
constraints and a vague idea in mind material can further the understanding practice, creative thinking becomes easi-
for the end goal is practice for nonlin- of its properties. er. You may not get this type of practice
ear thinking. The physical limitation of For example, consider glassblow- from many classes that involve math-
the medium being used will make you ing. You may learn the theory behind ematics, but art courses can certainly
really break down the message you are thermal shock, but when working with promote the creative process and expand
trying to get across. Physically reorga- glass, you begin to see how vital it is your mind to being a better engineer.
nizing the message to be represented to think about temperature gradients
can lead to interesting ways of inter- About the author
and the thickness of glass during every
preting the medium and the message. Maxwell Marple is a senior in materi-
step of the process to prevent your work
With practice, this thinking process als engineering with a minor in physics
from ending in ruins.
can become second nature when a at Iowa State University. He intends to
The experience of working with a pursue a MS in nanoscience after gradu-
problem is presented and a logical path medium can provide a more physical
yields no fruitful results. ation. n

Good science comes from good policy

Students travel to the US Capitol for Congressional Visits Day.
By Tricia L. Freshour

C ongressional Visits
Day, organized
this year by the Material
Advantage Program, was
held on April 1718, 2012,
(Credit: Office of Congressman Van Hollen.)
in Washington, D.C. The
CVD is an annual event
that brings students to
Washington to raise visibil-
ity and support for science,
Some of the student delegation visited Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, who is hold-
engineering and technology. ing the Nobel Prize medal awarded to the father of Bob Shull from NIST (immediately
Thirty-three students and faculty right of Van Hollen). Pictured from left are Hang Li, George Washington University;
from 13 universities attended this years Justin Wilkerson, Johns Hopkins University; Richard Suchoski, University of Maryland;
event. It was an exciting time for Van Hollen; Shull; Cynthia Byer, Johns Hopkins University; Paul Rottmann, Johns
Hopkins University; Ziang Ji, North Carolina State University; and Zhi Tang, University
the students because they occurred
of Tennessee, Knoxville.
when the space shuttle Discovery
flew over Capitol Hill on its way to engineering students to advocate for The CVD experience began on
Smithsonians National Air and Space long-term funding for science, engineer- Tuesday, April 17, with a talk by Kei
Museum, and because it was a unique ing and technology through meetings Koizumi, Assistant Director for Federal
opportunity for materials science and with Congressional decision-makers. R&D at the White House Office of

American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 91, No. 5 | 45

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