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Presidents Message - December 2012

By Jerry Byers

A winning IJTC

A dash of tribological creativity and a visit from our Chinese colleagues combined for another memorable event.

I am writing this article while returning from Denver, having attended the 2012 International Joint Tribology Conference (IJTC), which has been co-sponsored by STLE and ASME’s Tribology Division for more than 50 years. What an impressive event it was! My congratulations and heartfelt appreciation to the program chair Dr. Mike Lovell and vice chair Dr. Philippa Cann of this world-class technical conference. Nearly 270 attendees experienced three full days of high-quality tribology presentations arranged into 13 jam-packed technical tracks.

There were also 20 or more student posters, all of which were quite interesting. Awards were presented to three of these students. First prize went to Carlton Reeves (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) for his research on “The Tribological Properties of Environmentally Friendly Ionic Liquid Lubricants.” We showed appreciation to our young presenters with both a reception held in the poster display area and a meet-and-greet for early career tribologists at the Wynkoop Brewery. Those gathering at the craft brewery enjoyed tasting its various beers and food items, chatting, playing pool, touring the brewery and learning about the brewing process.

Among the technical sessions was a joint event planned by the Chinese Tribology Institute (CTI) and STLE, featuring world-renowned speakers alternating from both countries. Nine professors and students traveled to the event from China. STLE representatives shared lunch with the CTI group on Wednesday and hosted a tour of several Denver-area sites on Thursday after the conference was completed. In August 2011, as part of our ongoing exchange, then-STLE President Mike Dugger and STLE Executive Director Ed Salek attended the China International Symposium on Tribology in Lanzhou, China. We have been fortunate to share such joint sessions, friendships and research since the turn of this century.  

Several awards were presented during the luncheon on Tuesday, including ASME’s Burt L. Newkirk Award given to our own Dr. Ashlie Martini of the University of California-Merced, who also serves on our board of directors. This award recognizes persons under the age of 40 who have made notable contributions to the field of tribology. Congratulations, Ashlie!

Dr. Frankie Flood from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was our keynote speaker at Tuesday’s awards luncheon. Among other things, he spoke about the process he and his students used to make a truly unique Chancellor’s medallion for Dr. Lovell. The medallion took 1,000 hours to make, and consisted of 120 metal parts plus another 86 parts in the chain. One side of the medallion is a three-dimensional relief map of the UWM campus, while the other side shows the school’s initials, which open like the iris of a camera to reveal the Chancellor’s name. Fantastic! In the exhibit area, Dr. Flood demonstrated a rapid prototyping three-dimensional printer that fabricates objects layer- by-layer using molten plastic in place of the ink in a regular printer. Each of his students built their own 3D printer at a cost of about $500.

What was my favorite quote from this event? It was easily a line from Dr. Aaron Greco’s talk on wind turbine tribology where he quoted Dr. Peter J. Blau of Oak Ridge National Laboratory: “Wherever there are moving parts with surfaces in contact, tribology will play a role?sometimes a critical role.” This is a great, concise statement of the importance of tribology to everyday life.

Unfortunately, there won’t be an IJTC next year in order to avoid conflicting with the World Tribology Conference in Torino, Italy, Sept. 8-13, 2013. This brings me to my other favorite quote from the conference from Dr. Cann: “The bad news is there won’t be an IJTC next year. The good news is we’re all going to Italy!”

Couldn’t have said it better.

Jerry Byers is manager of research and development for Cimcool Fluid Technology in Cincinnati. You can reach him at jerry_p_byers@cimcool.com.

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