Iowa State professor of materials science and engineering Scott Chumbley never envisioned himself standing in front of a classroom, lecturing students on the fundamentals of corrosion or preparing them for a study abroad trip. In fact, that was the opposite of where he wanted his career to take him.
Throughout his schooling, Chumbley was set on pursuing a career in research, but after accepting a job at the Ames Laboratory, his responsibilities began to incorporate more and more teaching. A direction Chumbley says has been unexpected yet rewarding, his role in students’ lives has earned him the appointment of Fellow of ASM (FASM).
FASM is a recognition deemed to be one of the highest honors in the field of materials science. The award, given by ASM International, the Materials Information Society, was established in 1969 to recognize members’ distinguished contributions to materials science and engineering. ASM Fellows are technical and professional leaders who offer guidance to enhance ASM’s standing as a leading organization for materials and serve as a unique resource to the worldwide community of materials scientists and engineers.
Upon receiving word of his selection for FASM, Chumbley was shocked. “I was very surprised; I knew that my colleagues had nominated me, but I had never imagined actually receiving such a high honor,” he explained. Chumbley was chosen for “outstanding achievements in recruiting and mentoring of materials science and engineering students, and in the development of Web-based SEM (scanning electron microscope) technology used by K-12 students worldwide.”
The revolutionary project cited in Chumbley’s fellowship nomination leverages his expertise in electron microscopy, a technology that creates an image by scanning a sample with a high-energy beam of electrons in a pattern to capture and reconstruct an image, or raster scan pattern. “Colleagues and I adapted an electron microscope so students could access the microscope from their classrooms by means of a webpage to study a sample of anything from bugs to pencil erasers sent in by their teacher,” explained Chumbley.
Chumbley’s Web-based SEM is only one activity in the variety of his research projects that involves aspects of characterizing materials with electron microscopy. Currently, he and a few students are focusing on materials research in steel and rare earth-based materials.
Working with John Deere, Chumbley and a student are researching residual stress in steels to extend the life of mechanical parts and prevent dangerous accidents. One example of the impact of this work involves understanding the level of stress present due to welding during fabrication. With this knowledge, John Deere can better model the performance of an assembly and predict the lifetime of individual parts.
His research group is also using electron microscopy to characterize rare earth-based materials in the hopes of finding a new material for storing and releasing hydrogen. If successful, this could lead to using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels for energy generation.
In addition to his extensive materials research, Chumbley devotes a large amount of his time to teaching materials science courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. Furthermore, he manages the department’s London Study Abroad Program, which includes teaching a preparatory course. In response to his dedication to teaching, he has received a variety of awards over the years: MSE Department Outstanding Teacher in 2002 and 2003; MSE Department Outstanding Professor for the E-week Festivities in 2003; and ISU Superior Engineering Teacher in 2009.
Chumbley’s outstanding service extends beyond Iowa State to ASM as well. Over the years, he has been a member of ASM’s national recruiting committee; an advocate of the Central Iowa Chapter of ASM; and an advisor for ASM’s student pre-professional society, which is a joint organization with ASM, the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS), and the American Ceramic Society.
Humbly accepting the recognition, Chumbley says he is grateful for his colleagues’ efforts of nominating him. “I know of two Fellows in the department, Mufit Akinc and Iver Anderson, who assisted in writing the application with MSE Professor Ralph Napolitano. Without their excellent writing skills and kind words of appraisal, my appointment to ASM Fellow would not be possible,” Chumbley expressed with sincerity.